In Fall 2016, the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities awarded VHHA’s Virginia Hospital Research & Education Foundation (VHREF) and the Center for Healthcare Excellence federal grant funding to increase access to Early Intervention (EI) for infants receiving care in Virginia’s hospitals. The goal of the 18-month Virginia Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) EI Collaborative is to achieve systems change of practice and improvement in outcomes for all infants and young children by enhancing linkages to EI services for NICU patients and families.  For this statewide learning collaborative, the Center has partnered with 22 Virginia NICUs and their community EI partners.

The population served by this project includes infants and young children with disabilities in the Commonwealth, whose health outcomes this project strives to directly improve.  To achieve this goal, the Center has engaged Virginia hospital NICU staff, including nurses, social workers, and any personnel that aid in discharging patients, and the community support agencies with whom coordination of care is needed for the children and families.

To improve these outcomes, the Collaborative participants focus on enhancing care coordination among care providers, increasing referrals for likely to be eligible children to EI services after a NICU stay, review and enhancement of existing referral protocols, participating in education to improve staff competencies in completing referrals, and collaboration with fellow Virginia NICU facilities for sharing best practices.

What is Early Intervention in Virginia?

The Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia provides early intervention supports and services to infants and toddlers from birth to the third birthday who are not developing as expected or who have a medical condition that can delay normal development. Early intervention supports and services focus on increasing the child's participation in family and community activities that are important to the family. In addition, supports and services focus on helping parents and other caregivers know how to find ways to help the child learn during everyday activities.

Education Modules

Video 1: VA NICU EI Collaborative – Getting Started
Accompanying Handouts (PDF)
Alternative viewing link.

Video 2: VA NICU EI Collaborative – Baseline Data and Needs Assessment Findings
Accompanying Handouts (PDF)
Alternative viewing link.

Video 3: VA NICU EI Collaborative – Change Package Implementation
Accompanying Handouts (PDF)
Alternative viewing link.

Video 4: Shifting Our Mindset – the Role of NICU Staff as Trainers and Coaches
Accompanying Handouts (PDF)
Alternative viewing link.

Patient, Parent, and Family Resources

The Arc of Virginia’s New Path is the support network for families in Early Intervention. New Path assists families in order for them to evolve into self-sufficient advocates for their loved ones. New Path builds on families' commitment to learning, connecting and advocacy by providing support and resources. We invite you to come join us as you begin your New Path.

Do you have questions about Early Intervention services in Virginia?  Do you have an advocacy issue that requires attention?  If so, connect with New Path today.

To build partnerships with parents and families during their infant’s stay in Virginia NICUs, the Collaborative has developed a simple teaching tool, designed for parents to learn skills they will use when the family goes home. The On Your Way tool, developed by Kelly Walsh-Hill with input from Collaborative participants, provides a guide for parents to complete alongside their care providers. These learned skills will continue at home and during sessions with Early Intervention services.

Making a Referral Resources

About the Funder: VBPD serves as Virginia's Developmental Disabilities (DD) Council. DD Councils are in every state and territory of the United States. They work for the benefit of individuals with DD and their families to identify needs and help develop policies, programs and services that will meet these needs in a manner that respects dignity and independence. 75% of the funding for this project was provided by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities under the federal Developmental Disabilities and Bill of Rights Act. For more information on the Board, please contact: Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, 1100 Bank Street, 7th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219, (800) 846-4464, or visit the Board’s website at www.vaboard.org.