Article supplied by the West Point News
Schools in the area aren’t the only ones adapting to new modes of educating children and their families during this time when buildings have been closed because of the cornonavirus.
The Early Development Network at Educational Service Unit #2 based in Fremont also continues to provide services to children from birth to age 3 who have developmental delays and/or health care needs.
Jenna Koperski-Bohn, ESU #2’s Services Coordinator for Cuming and Burt counties, said this week that she wants families to know that services continue year-round.
“We’re still providing services for our area,” she said. “We are working with families through Zoom meetings and phone calls and are providing them with resources. We’re doing everything we can to help. We want them to know we are still here for them.”
Families in need of the Early Development Network’s services, which are provided free, can call 402-727-4130 for more information.
There is also a Facebook page (Early Development Network-ESU#2) that families can visit to find activities to do with their children each day.
Five services coordinators currently cover the four-county area that ESU 2 serves. Those counties are Cuming, Burt, Dodge and Saunders.
Koperski-Bohn said her job is to follow up on referrals to the Early Development Network and connect the families to the services their children need. Those include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and more.
A child is eligible for services if he or she is not developing typically, or has been diagnosed with a health condition that will affect his or her development.
Referrals can come from doctors, parents who have used the services before, schools and other sources. The family must give permission for the referral to be made.
Prior to the coronavirus, services coordinators visited the families in their homes and were sometimes accompanied by a therapist. In other cases, arrangements are made to connect the families with therapists in the school district or local hospital.
Koperski-Bohn said a lot of the services are moving to a “coaching model” based on the premise that the parents know their children best.
“We find out what the child needs, what they are doing and what the child is having difficulty doing,” she said.
For example, she said if a young child is having trouble walking the services coordinator and therapist will show them something to try. The parent then is encouraged to work with the child and come up with more strategies on their own.
The developmental delays children have vary, KoperskiBohn said, as is each child’s rate of development. One child may be able to walk earlier than another, and others might talk later than others their age.
“We don’t know the exact reason for the delay, but we work to help them overcome it,” Koperski-Bohn said. “We see a variety of developmental delays. A lot of time they don’t need the services anymore by the time they reach preschool.”
That’s why early intervention is important, she added. “Kids grow and change so much at that age,” she said. “Our goal is to address what is going on early in their life. A lot of time, by the time they go to school the child – and their parents – feel comfortable with that new setting.” Koperski-Bohn has been involved with early child development for 10 years and says “it’s the best program ever.”
“It’s cool to see children develop over the years,” she said. “I’ve met children when they were babies and to see them develop and grow and head off to preschool is rewarding.”
After age 3, the child’s needs are provided by the school district in which they live. Special education services are required for children from birth (or date of diagnosis) to age 21.