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New data brief shows strengths, challenges of Children’s Integrated Services in Vermont

Aug 12 2022, 3:05 PM

Report underscores the need to invest in workforce, increase funding for coordination, conduct a full evaluation of CIS, and evolve the CIS data system and infrastructure

Aug. 11, 2022 (WILLISTON, Vt.)—Building Bright Futures (BBF) has released a new data brief through Vermont’s Early Childhood Data and Policy Center, titled Examining Perspectives of Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) from Families Served by CIS Early Intervention. (vermontkidsdata.org/cis-data-brief/) CIS is a prevention-focused program that provides support for parents or caregivers to understand and advocate for the needs of their children, provides a point person to support care coordination, and coordinates access to high-quality child development, mental health, and prevention services.

Early Intervention is one of the components of CIS that provides services to children ages birth to 3 years old who are experiencing developmental delays or who have a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay. Early intervention services may include vision and hearing screening, physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, and other needed support.

To contribute to Vermont’s understanding and prioritization of the experience of families receiving these services, BBF supported the Child Development Division’s CIS State Team in an analysis of qualitative data to examine the perceptions and experiences of families who have received early intervention services as part of CIS. This data, from a survey completed from November 2020 through June 2021, represents the views of 371 parents and caregivers across the state.

Three themes emerged from the survey responses:
1. Impact of CIS on children and families: The majority of families said their experience with CIS was positive and helpful. Many respondents said that CIS helped with their child’s developmental progress and helped them understand their child’s strengths and abilities, know their rights as parents, develop skills to effectively advocate for their child, and feel empowered to take action.
2. Critical components of CIS: Care coordination and the CIS workforce specifically, interpersonal interactions and relationships, effective and knowledgeable staff, and communication, were the most critical components of the CIS program for respondents.
3. Challenges and barriers: A limited number of families reported challenges with CIS, including challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, communication, and the CIS workforce.

“This data brief shows the power of elevating family voice through rigorous qualitative research. Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story. It’s important to use multiple ways of collecting and analyzing information to understand how programs and services are impacting children and families,” BBF Executive Director Dr. Morgan Crossman said. “I’m excited about this data because it sheds light on families perspectives of the impact of CIS and some of the best ways we can support families of young children with developmental disabilities in Vermont to have a healthy start.”

There are several limitations to the data in this report:
- The data collection method does not capture the full population receiving CIS services, only families of children who received early intervention services.
- The data provided for this analysis was limited to one question.
- The survey had a 61% response rate, which introduces self-selection bias.
- Data sharing agreements were restrictive.
- The interchangeable use of “CIS” and “Early Intervention” made it unclear if respondents understood the separate services.
- The COVID-19 pandemic required significant shifts in the delivery of services, which makes it challenging to generalize families’ experiences.

The BBF data brief includes two program, policy, and data considerations related to important CIS service components and their impact on families:

1. Invest in the CIS workforce: Vermont should invest in and prioritize the CIS workforce as individuals working with young and vulnerable children and families.
2. Value coordination: Vermont should fund the critical elements of coordination beyond case management to best serve the whole child and family.

The BBF data brief includes two program, policy, and data considerations to address these data limitations and gain a fuller picture of CIS:

3. Conduct a full evaluation of CIS: A full evaluation of the CIS program is needed to determine challenges to service provision and which factors are most critical in delivering these services successfully.
4. Evolve the CIS data system and infrastructure: A CIS data system is needed, including the personnel capacity and expertise to execute high-quality data collection, management, reporting, and utilization.

BBF serves a critical role in Vermont, operating as a broker of up-to-date, high-quality data and information to guide policy decisions and strategy related to children, families, and the Early Childhood System. This data brief is one example of how BBF is supporting Vermont in compiling, analyzing, summarizing, and disseminating high-quality data to inform decision-making.

It’s important to note that this brief is not a full evaluation of CIS. The findings of this brief do not necessarily indicate the views of the State of Vermont.

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The mission of Building Bright Futures (BBF) is to improve the well-being of each and every child and family in Vermont by using evidence to inform policy and bringing voices together to discuss critical challenges and problem solve. Building Bright Futures (BBF) is Vermont’s early childhood public-private partnership, charged under Vermont Title 33 § Chapter 46 and the Federal Head Start Act (Public Law 110-134) as Vermont’s Early Childhood State Advisory Council (SAC), the mechanism used to advise the Governor and Legislature on the well-being of children in the prenatal period through age 8 and their families. BBF’s Network infrastructure includes 12 Regional Councils, seven VECAP Committees, and the State Advisory Council. BBF maintains the vision and strategic plan for Vermont’s Early Childhood System. Learn more at buildingbrightfutures.org.

 

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