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Service Settings in Early Intervention

The goal of early intervention is to provide services to support a child's development in a family focused manner. Ideally services and supports are embedded into a child's daily routine. As such, services can occur in the child's home, in a child care setting, at a neighborhood park or any other location that the child frequents. This is what is termed "natural environment."

A natural environment will find the child with typical kids getting their supports and therapies within that setting. For example, a speech therapist might come to a child's daycare in order to teach the caregivers how best to encourage speech development. Or a physical therapist might meet a parent at a local park to work on gross motor skills on the playground equipment .

Children with developmental delays or who are at risk for delays learn best when exposed to their typically developing peers as role models. Research in the field of early intervention also shows that it is best to educate the child's caregivers so that they are empowered to better support the child in his/her natural environment. Since parents are a child's first teacher, successful early intervention teaches parents how to encourage their child's full development within the context of daily life.

Additional information about natural environments is available through:

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Johnna Darragh-Ernst

Professor Early Childhood Education

1500 W Raab Road
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-268-8746

Email: johnna.darragh@heartland.edu