- July/August 2010
- Vol. 11, No. 6
Virtual Home Visits Provide Effective Home Intervention Services
Barriers related to geography, time, and transportation can make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for IDEA Part C early intervention programs serving remote rural areas to provide the required home visits. These federally funded programs are obligated to serve all eligible infants and toddlers in their area, regardless of difficulty.
Efforts to overcome these barriers in rural Utah where harsh winters pose a particular challenge is discussed in a recent article in Family Center on Technology and Disability News & Notes. The article, "A New Approach to Early Intervention: Virtual Home Visits," describes efforts by workers at the Early Intervention Research Institute, Center for Persons with Disabilities, at Utah State University to utilize technology-based virtual home visits to overcome those barriers in a way consistent with the current digital culture. Although nontraditional, the new approach meets the criteria for service provision and has enabled IDEA Part C providers to maintain a consistent schedule of home visits for families who may live as far as 125 miles away from the provider's home base.
Using grant money to help families acquire computers and other equipment, service providers were able to set up video conferencing with families. The center also developed some online tutorials to take parents through the steps of installing their cameras and microphones and downloading the desktop software. Through these video conferences, providers can observe parent and child interactions and provide instruction to the families.
Families generally have been receptive to the visits, although early intervention staff prefer direct contact with children and families, so virtual visits are regarded as supplemental and not as a replacement for home visits.
News & Notes is available on the Family Center on Technology and Disability website: