The North Bend Eagle

Lydia Moser, 19 months, smiles at mom Kristen as she and dad Tony read a book. Looking on is Peggy Duffy, the family's Early Development Network service coordinator.

Early Development Network reaches out to help

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 2/6/13

The North Bend community has schools for young children, but the education of a child does not begin at age 3. At birth, if a child presents a developmental need, there is a network to assist the family in getting help for the child.

Lydia Moser is one of those children. Born four months premature weighing 15.7 ounces, she is now 19 months old and thriving with all the special attention she gets, not only from her family, but from a physical therapist, occupational therapist, vision specialist and, just recently added, a speech therapist. Peggy Duffy is the Early Development Network service coordinator who is helping the Moser family coordinate all the helpers needed to get Lydia to her highest potential.

Kristen Moser, Lydia’ mother, received paperwork about EDN while still in the hospital. The EDN service coordinator visited the family about a week after Lydia came home. At 19 months, Lydia weighs 13 pounds, 7 ounces, and is sprouting her fourth tooth and making strides in her development.

“The network has really helped us,” Kristen Moser said. “From the day we started the early intervention until now, Lydia wouldn’t have made the progress she has without them. It’s a great resource to have.”

Other children using these services may have a visual or hearing impairment; orthopedic handicap, a deaf or blind child; a child born prematurely or multiple births; club feet, spina bifida, clef palate, a genetic disorder (Down’s Syndrome or others) or traumatic brain injury. The Educational Service Unit 2 in Fremont has a network of people to provide services and support for these children who start life with a set-back or who are having difficulty reaching their developmental milestones.

As the child grows, other delays in development – autism, seizure disorders, epilepsy, or failure to thrive – may become evident. Delays in development can be seen in speech and/or language, fine or gross motor skills, play skills or cognitive delay.

Lou Bauer of Morse Bluff is the supervisor of four service coordinators serving Burt, Cumming, Saunders and Dodge County. Duffy is the Early Development Network services coordinator for Dodge County serving 41 families. She said she deals with a few more children with speech problems, but there is a wide variety of problems Duffy helps families with.

“There are so many,” Duffy said.

Duffy works directly with the families to help them find the resources and services they need for their child. She will see them for an initial visit after their referral is received. Duffy does some developmental screening and other professionals might come in to do standardized testing. This is all done within 45 days of referral.
If the child qualifies for special education (this is under the Rule 51 Nebraska Standards) then all the professionals will meet together with the family and make a plan of care for the child. Duffy will follow up with the family monthly to see if there are any other resources the family could use.

“Services may be added as the child gets older,” Duffy said adding that the care plans are reviewed every six months.

“From the program the family learns how to advocate for them selves and to obtain the necessary resources on their own,” Bauer said.

“We just guide them to the resources available without making them dependent on the program.”

The EDN program has no income restrictions, and the object is to begin working with the child as soon as possible to help them be successful in life. Lydia joined the EDN in November.

Duffy is the main contact each family will have. The 41 Dodge County families are seen by Duffy monthly and coordinates the family-centered services.

“All the services are provided in the child’s natural environment, be it home or day care,” Bauer said. “It is ideal for the parents to work with the provider so that they can carry over the therapy.”

When a child is called into the system by a parent, or a relative with the parents’ permission, day care provider, family friend or physician, the service coordinator will get to know the family and identify the child’s needs. A team of professionals will evaluate the child and create an Individual Family Service Plan to create goals that will help the child reach their best potential.

Service is totally based on the child’s needs. A child born prematurely can enter the EDN when they leave the hospital. Bauer gives examples of children helped by the EDN at ESU2 as children with heart or liver transplants, undergoing heart repair, having brain tumors or cancer, or those born without limbs. The EDN will work with a child until Aug. 30 of the year they reach three, then if necessary, the family can get the child into other programs.

“It’s amazing the resources a family can gain by using this program,” Bauer said. “The nice thing is that they will work with just one person, the service coordinator, when they have concerns about their child.”

To make a referral to have a child evaluated in Dodge, Saunders, Cumming or Burt counties, call the ESU 2 at 402-727-4130 or a toll free number, 1-877-271-1528.

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