Announcing New Early Supports for Infants and Toddlers Awards

We are excited to announce new awards that will help children reach developmental milestones in their own way and at their own pace. Early Supports for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) provides early intervention services for children birth to age three and their families. The ESIT program is required to serve all eligible children and Best Starts funding allows for growth and the opportunity to support more children and families.

Congratulations to our ESIT partners who successfully applied to our recent ESIT RFQ.

Newly qualified ESIT providers:

  • Vashon Youth and Family Services: Full Service Provider
  • Sisters in Common and United Indians of All Tribes: Infant Mental Health Providers
  • Encompass Northwest: Deaf/Hard of Hearing Provider

Continuously qualified ESIT providers:

Full Service Providers:
Birth to Three Developmental Center
Boyer Children’s Clinic
Children’s Therapy Center
Experimental Education Unit, Haring Center
Northwest Center
Wonderland Child & Family Services
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Providers:
Family Conversations at the Northwest School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
Parent Infant Program at the Hearing, Speech, and Deaf Center
Listen and Talk

Children’s Therapy Center

Anthony with his therapist

BSK funding has done so much to grow our program and reach more children in need of services

Claire Acey, Director of External Relations, Children’s Therapy Center

Four-year old Anthony was born prematurely at 27 weeks old and weighed less than 2 pounds. He’d suffered a severe brain hemorrhage, and although doctors knew he’d be delayed as a result they could not say to what extent. They did know he had cerebral palsy affecting his left side.

“The first question after his birth was, ‘Would he survive?’” his mother, Nikita says. “The second was, ‘What will his quality of life be like?’ Doctors didn’t know and couldn’t predict.”

The uncertainty grew for Nikita and her family. “Not knowing [what is happening or what to expect] is the hardest thing,” she says. “By his first birthday, Anthony was still not walking and doctors were saying he may never walk.” She enrolled him in the Early Supports for Infants and Toddlers program at Children’s Therapy Center.  

One of Anthony’s first goals in occupational therapy was to start using his left hand, which was often at his side and curled into a fist as a result of his cerebral palsy. “Prior to therapy, Anthony was not using his left hand at all,” Nikita says, watching as her son fills a box with toy blocks using just his left hand. His therapist claps. “Way to go, Anthony!” she says as he smiles broadly.  

Anthony works on using his left hand outside of therapy, too. “It’s a daily expectation, not just one that happens weekly at therapy,” says Nikita. “My whole family learns from therapy. We take what we learn and help him keep progressing throughout the week. That’s why he has come so far!”

Nikita reflects on her son’s progress. “Some milestones are tangible,” she says, “but his attitude has also changed over time. At first he was resistant but now he’s enjoying therapy. He knows he can do it!”

Best Starts for Kids funding has allowed Children’s Therapy Center (CTC) to also invest in capacity building with staff including staff training, equity work and parent coaching. With the additional support, CTC has been able to prioritize things that take more time and subsequently has improved the quality of their services.

Thanks to additional Best Starts support from the Innovation Fund, CTC also partners with Open Doors to provide culturally appropriate ESIT, focusing on stronger family relationships. The entire family is impacted, not just the child, yet the ESIT system too often quickly dives in, leaving families confused about the diagnosis and unaware how best to navigate the system.

To better serve families especially from diverse cultural backgrounds, CTC’s Early Intervention Program Director shared more about their new approach:

We need more time to get to the know families, build trust and help build understanding of their child’s diagnosis and the purpose of therapy. We will now do a joint home-based intake process with a staff member who is a culture/language match with the family from Open Doors, alongside our Family Resource Coordinator. We then meet after to debrief the appropriate cultural navigation and plan.

Sisters in Common

Sisters in Common began by primarily serving African American families. That broadened to include African heritage/immigrant families. Becoming a newly qualified ESIT provider, Sisters in Common can now provide ESIT services to communities that they know well and can provide culturally appropriate support.

ESIT is an opportunity to broaden our services to serve the population that we’ve taken on….There is often a lot of distrust and barriers especially when it comes to kids. Our communities call us when they need help and we provide early support.

JC Ephraim, Sisters in Common

Sisters in Common also supports grandparents when they step in to help parent their grandchildren. Staff are often invited into relationship with multigenerational families and provide individual care and coaching to both grandparents and young parents in the same household. Supporting this family structure means that Sisters in Common is very aware of the challenges the grandparents as seniors may be experiencing, from mental health, poorer health and less energy–all while they may be caring for a newborn or young child.

We are so grateful for all our ESIT partners and their commitment to support families across King County!

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