Thirty-six-month outcomes for families of children who have disabilities and participated in early intervention
OBJECTIVE: Infants and toddlers with disabilities in the United States and their families are eligible for early intervention services under Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. The purpose of this study was to assess family outcomes at the end of early intervention (near the child's third birthday). METHODS: A nationally representative sample of 2586 parents in 20 states completed a 40-minute telephone interview on or near their child's third birthday. This article summarizes data related to perceived family outcomes at the end of early intervention. RESULTS: At the end of early intervention, most parents felt competent in caring for their children, advocating for services, and gaining access to formal and informal supports. They also were generally optimistic about the future. Most (82%) parents believed that their family was better off as a result of early intervention. Parents were somewhat less positive in their perceived ability to deal with their child's behavior problems or gain access to community resources, and lower family outcome scores were found for parents of minority children, children with health problems, and children who were living with a single adult. CONCLUSION: Results suggest that Part C early intervention provides important supports for families of young children with disabilities. The findings reinforce the need for experimental research to identify factors that are most likely to lead to successful outcomes for all families. In the meantime, early identification and expeditious referral are important so that maximum benefit can be realized for children with disabilities and their families.