Breaking Down Barriers to Early Intervention for Lead-Poisoned Children
News (Tuesday, August 7, 2018)
Legal Council for Health Justice is launching a pilot program dedicated to breaking down systemic barriers to Early Intervention services among lead-exposed children. The pilot program will provide automatic eligibility for Early Intervention services to children with a past blood lead level of 5 or above in three Illinois locations with high lead burdens – Cicero, Berwyn, and Rockford, IL – regardless of whether or not eligible children are already experiencing developmental delays. A $600,000 grant provided by the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation, in addition to a seed grant awarded in October 2017 by the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, provides the necessary funding to take this project to the next level.
In a press release, Dr. Nicole Hamp, pediatrician and LUCENT Scholar at University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, who will serve as the Physician Engagement Coordinator on this project, further described the goal of the project: “What we hope to achieve for children who have been lead poisoned in the state of Illinois is automatic eligibility for Early Intervention because we believe that these services, offered between birth and 3 years of age, take advantage of a time in a child’s life when there is incredible neuroplasticity that may allow them to compensate for the developmental insult.”
The goal with this rollout of Early Intervention services is to give children and their families the skills, education, and opportunity to overcome the negative effects of lead poisoning, but also to find a way to restructure the systems of public health, medicine, and social services to help ensure families overcome its effects. The pilot will work with medical and EI providers and families to develop best practices for training, educating, and serving children who have been exposed to lead, informing the eventual state-wide rollout of automatic EI eligibility to lead-exposed kids.