Parents hope their children will be happy and above all healthy, but who do they turn to if the unthinkable happens? When a child shows signs of a developmental delay or health issue, there is help available through the Early Development Network (EDN) through the Educational Service Unit 2.
EDN provides services and support for children from birth to three-years-old who are having difficulty reaching their developmental milestones. If a child is developing at a slower rate than other children in their age group it is important to begin working with them as soon as possible.
The Early Development Network provides service coordinators to guide families through the process of getting children the help they deserve through this free program. Lori Dunn serves as the coordinator for Burt, Cuming and northern Dodge counties.
A child exhibiting delays in speech/language, fine and gross motor skills, play skills and cognitive delays may qualify for services. They may also be diagnosed or show symptoms of visual or hearing impairments, orthopedically handicapped, autism, deaf or blind, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorder, premature or multiple births, behavior disorder, failure to thrive, club foot, spina bifida, cleft-palate, epilepsy, genetic syndrome and much more.
"We get referrals often times from doctors and hospitals but there are those kids who were maybe born premature that came home from the hospital and no one made a referral to us," said Dunn. "We could have been following these kids when they were premature to make sure that they're tracking as they should be."
A parent, relative, daycare provider, family friend or doctor can make a referral with the parent's permission. This can be done by contacting Dunn for an evaluation at 402-727-4130 or toll free at 1-877-271-1528. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the referral is made a service coordinator will get to know the family and identify their needs. Dunn sends a copy of her information to the district in which the child resides.
After she has gathered information, Dunn provides a summary that is shared with providers that may need to do evaluations on this child.
A team of professionals will make a home visit to perform a standardized test to help identify the development rate of the child.
The team comes together within 45 days to make the determination if the child qualifies for special education, based on Nebraska Rule 51.
Dunn follows up with the family every month to make sure resources are in place and their needs are being met by providers. An Individual Family Service Plan goes into effect which is a six month plan highlighting some goals they would like to see them achieve.
"We get Early Development Network information out to doctors and hospitals as much as we can so that we are providing services when appropriate," said Dunn. "We do work with the family in their home. It's nice to be able to have us just come to them."
Service coordinators also help families find resources. Perhaps they're financially stressed or maybe there are some services through the Department of Health and Human Services Dunn can help them seek out. According to Dunn, there are a lot of people who don't know how to seek those things for themselves.