Addressing Social Inequity in Early Intervention Services for Young Children with Disabilities


Family Matters Parent Training & Information CenterAcademic mentor: Prof. Meghan Burke

Community partner: Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center

Community-Academic Scholars: Michelle Garcia and Jacqueline Nunez

Project description: 
In Illinois, over 20,000 young (aged 0-3) children with delays and/or disabilities receive early intervention (EI) services (e.g., speech therapy, physical therapy). These services are critical to their development and long-term functioning. Prior to COVID-19, EI services were provided in person. With COVID-19, Illinois pivoted to offer EI services via telehealth. However, this introduced inequity as families without access to technology and/or consistent internet could not access EI via telehealth.

To address this inequity, the Early Intervention Clearinghouse received a grant to provide technology and data plans to families of young children with disabilities so they can access EI. The Early Intervention Clearinghouse (which is housed at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) partners with Family Matters, a non-profit which also serves families of young children with disabilities.

In this project, the Community-Academic Scholars will work with the Clearinghouse, Family Matters, and Dr. Burke to conduct qualitative and quantitative research about the technology loan program to determine if the program closes inequities.

Role of the Community-Academic Scholars:
The Community-Academic Scholars will conduct a systematic literature review about inequity in telehealth. The scholars will work with Dr. Burke, the Clearinghouse, and Family Matters to develop a survey and interview protocol. We will recruit families who have received technology/devices from the Clearinghouse to receive EI services via telehealth. These families will complete the survey and an interview with the scholars. The scholars will enter the survey data into a statistical software program. They will also transcribe and help analyze the qualitative data. The scholars will be involved in writing manuscripts resulting from the data.