How COVID-19 might be impacting early childhood developmentSep 29, 2020 10:27AM ● By Katy Whittingham
The Crockett family, who are part of the Parent Infant program, were one of two families that participated in the press conference Sept. 15 at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. (Photo courtesy Crockett family)
By Katy Whittingham | [email protected]
One of the many side effects of COVID-19 may be that families with children with unique needs are less likely to reach out for resources needed for them to meet early developmental milestones due to changes in schedules, school and daycare closures, and other stressors.
Missing support during these critical years can cause setbacks in a child’s development. For this reason, The Baby Watch Early Intervention Program and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (USDB) held a press conference Sept. 15 at the USDB Millcreek location to raise awareness and provide family perspectives.
Susan Thomas, the mother of a hard of hearing son and Division Director of Communications and Development for USDB said, “We want to educate everyone about these programs for babies and students of all ages. The thought of any family missing out on these resources just breaks my heart.”
The Baby Watch Early Intervention Program within the Utah Department of Health and USDB collaborate to help these families, and a new timeline, available on the USDB website, has been developed to help parents determine how their infants are progressing and whether they may benefit from early intervention.
Luke Thomas of Midvale, now 21, was born hard of hearing due to microtia, having a smaller ear on one side and no ear canal. At that time, doctors told his mother he would be fine because he could hear to some extent and they had no idea there were a team of experts who could help him throughout his education.
“He really struggled throughout his education and wishes he could have attended the schools with other hard of hearing children, but we only found out about USDB when he was graduating from high school,” Susan Thomas said.
The press conference in September included two families, the Crocketts and the Painters, with children in the Parent Infant program to discuss their experiences to help raise awareness and alleviate fears. Thomas said, “We want to educate families who may have missed hearing about services because of COVID-19 or slipped through the cracks for other reasons.”
According to Baby Watch Early Intervention Program Manager Lisa Davenport, Baby Watch and all local early intervention programs have continued to be open during the pandemic and remain “committed to providing quality services to all children and their families through the use of virtual technology.” The Baby Watch Early Intervention Program has 15 local early intervention programs across Utah. “Face to face visits are a critical and valuable component to early intervention services and will resume as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so,” Davenport said.
The Baby Watch Early Intervention Program enhances early growth and development in infants and toddlers, who have developmental delays or disabilities, by providing individualized support and services to the child and their family.
For more information or for families with children under age 3 seeking support, you can contact them at 800-961-4226 or visit http://utahbabywatch.org/. USDB educates students who are Deaf, Blind, or Deaf-blind so they can achieve their full academic, social, and career potential. To learn more and for the updated list of developmental milestones, visit www.usdb.org.