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Illinois Strategies
IECMH in Home Visiting: Baby TALK

Baby TALK is an evidence-based family engagement model for families from the prenatal period to five years, with national headquarters in Decatur, Illinois. Baby TALK has trained professionals in 32 states and is currently being implemented in nine states: Illinois, as well as Alabama, District of Columbia, California, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In several Illinois programs the model has successfully engaged refugee and immigrant families in home visiting services. This profile first describes the overall model and then examines its implementation in two communities with refugee and immigrant families, many of whom have experienced trauma.

Baby TALK is a community-based model, with an approach and a curriculum that may be implemented in a variety of settings. Programs use relationship-based outreach to understand the potential fit for families within Baby TALK. This outreach occurs across a wide range of community locations such as hospitals, WIC clinics, libraries, and school districts to find and enroll families, and specific screening tools may include the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), ASQ: Social-Emotional, and other developmental screenings. Family eligibility criteria for Baby TALK services vary by the program delivering the model and depend on funder requirements and programmatic considerations around serving target populations, such as pregnant and parenting adolescents or immigrant and refugee families.

Baby TALK serves families in both home visiting and center-based early care and education programs, with home visitors and family support specialists currently delivering the largest base of Baby TALK programming. The Baby Talk curriculum promotes child development and well-being through family-child interactions. The curriculum focuses strongly on the family-child relationship, is aligned with infant-early childhood mental health principles, and recognizes the parent as the expert on the child. The Baby TALK curriculum can be used very flexibly by a home visitor to address particular interests or concerns of the parent (e.g., the baby’s self-regulation or particular routines such as feeding). Children also receive ongoing screenings which can include the ASQ and ASQ:SE. To gain a thorough understanding of families and to guide their engagement with them, professionals use the comprehensive, strength-based Baby TALK Family Resource Assessment. This assessment, completed within families’ first 90 days of enrollment, is used to develop an individual family plan, and asks about the family’s interest in and need for a wide range of supports, including those related to basic needs and social support. By building partnerships with community organizations and resources, local Baby TALK programs support home visitors’ efforts to connect families with concrete supports, public benefits, and other services tailored to family circumstances. The Family Resource Assessment also asks families about culturally-based strengths in key areas such as family support systems, the child’s well-being, or particular relationships.

Workforce Development

Certification for Baby TALK professionals consists of an initial four-day training facilitated by the Baby TALK Learning Institute, which covers the Baby TALK model, approach, and curriculum to engage families during service delivery, as well as both before and during enrollment. In 2014, Baby TALK and RefugeeOne, a resettlement agency, developed a training specifically for home visitors working with immigrant and refugee families (see below for more information on RefugeeOne and Baby TALK). Elements of this training were then incorporated into the Baby TALK general training approach, which is culturally sensitive, has a strong mental health focus, and addresses the needs of trauma-exposed families. Universal Screening – Newborn Encounter training specifically prepares professionals to use the Baby TALK Newborn Encounter Protocol for programs that engage families in the hospital setting.

Baby TALK also offers a range of additional technical assistance resources and support through its Baby TALK Learning Institute & Baby TALK Professional Association (BTPA). Learning opportunities through the BTPA include facilitated discussions within both small group and network-wide professional development events.


Programs implementing Baby TALK use a variety of funding sources, most notably Early Head Start/Head Start and federal grants administered at the state level. The programs highlighted in this profile serving immigrants and refugees using Baby TALK are funded by the Illinois Prevention Initiative (PI) which receives funds from the state’s Early Childhood Block Grant, as well as state general revenue funds. PI awards grants on a competitive basis for intensive, comprehensive evidence-based child development and family support services, including home visiting. Funding is targeted to programs serving families experiencing challenges, including families that may face barriers related to their language or cultural background.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Since 2008, Baby TALK has conducted a wide range of research into the model, exploring engagement of vulnerable families through universal outreach, parenting practices and family well-being, and child outcomes such as social-emotional and language development (see the following overview of Baby TALK research).

In one evaluation, a randomized controlled trial in Illinois, 34 parents of children three- to 26-months old were assigned to Baby TALK and 28 to a control group. After nine months, low-income and younger Baby TALK parents reported significantly lower levels of stress, and Baby TALK children had significantly greater language development. See the section below for more information about another randomized controlled trial of Baby TALK at RefugeeOne.

Programs highlighted in this profile engage in a quality assessment process every five years that involves the use of 64 quality standards for fidelity monitoring and quality improvement. Data are collected through video of home visiting sessions analyzed using the Baby TALK Observation Protocol (BTOP), interviews with parents and staff, and documentation, including the Personal Encounter (PE) form, which home visitors complete after each visit. The PE form includes use of strategies for engagement, as well as ratings of parent-child interactions and the emotional climate during the visit.

RefugeeOne Baby TALK

RefugeeOne is the largest settlement agency in Illinois. Based in Chicago, it serves more than 2,500 refugees and immigrants each year by offering a range of services to help families build lives in their new community. RefugeeOne’s Wellness Program provides culturally and linguistically sensitive case management and services to support refugees’ physical and mental health needs, which can include conditions resulting from trauma and stress experienced before, during, and after forced migration. All adults complete an initial mental health screening, which covers depression, post-traumatic disorder domestic violence, and substance abuse. On the basis of the screening results they may receive mental health services onsite, including individual and group therapy, or be referred to a partner provider in cases of greater need. As part of the Wellness Program, all families with children under three or who are pregnant are referred to home visiting services that use the Baby TALK curriculum; children under five are screened for behavioral concerns with the Ages & Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional (ASQ:SE). Home visiting provides critical supports to RefugeeOne families with young children who may not be able to travel to the agency because of caregiving responsibilities, transportation difficulties, language barriers, and other challenges. Baby TALK was selected because its relational approach is particularly suitable for engaging families exposed to trauma. Eighty to 90 percent of RefugeeOne families take up the program when offered, and retention in the home visiting program is high, ranging from 85 to 90 percent for the initial 12-month period of services.

RefugeeOne has several mental health and related resources that are available to families engaged in the Baby TALK home visiting program. These include trauma-informed adult clinical mental health services provided by clinicians with experience serving refugees, and dyadic (parent-child) intervention delivered by clinicians using Child-Parent Psychotherapy, an evidence-based model [see PRiSM research summary on dyadic treatment for more information]. Additional supports available onsite at RefugeeOne include language classes, employment services, and help with transportation, housing, and other social needs. RefugeeOne also maintains a strong network of referrals to off-site services such as Early Intervention.

RefugeeOne employs five home visitors, all of whom are former refugees and typically share a language and culture with the families they visit. The cultural knowledge shared by home visitors and families helps forge strong connections between them. This stands in contrast to the early years of RefugeeOne’s home visiting program, when some home visitors would work with interpreters during home visits when they did not share a language with the family. When recruiting potential home visitors, the Wellness Program’s leadership reaches out, via word of mouth, to community members who may be interested in becoming home visitors. One current home visitor is a former recipient of Baby TALK home visiting. The current team of home visitors reflects the diverse backgrounds of the families served by RefugeeOne who are predominantly Syrian, Congolese, from the Central African Republic, and Rohingya from Malaysia.

RefugeeOne home visitors regularly participate in individual reflective supervision with their supervisor, who is a therapist, and in group peer consultation. Their supervisor has been trained on the FAN  (Facilitating Attuned Interactions) model, which helps home visitors develop relationships with parents in which they feel trust and safety, allowing parents to be more open about their needs and receptive to support. FAN also helps home visitors engage in self-reflection and gain awareness of their responses to families, which helps them cope when families’ reports of trauma trigger memories of home visitors’ own trauma.

Home visitors, along with all staff at RefugeeOne, receive initial and ongoing annual training on mental health concepts, trauma-informed practices, identifying mental health symptoms, and providing referrals. Sharing a cultural background with the families they serve, along with this training, helps home visitors establish close relationships with parents and better identify and help families overcome stigma surrounding mental health supports.

RefugeeOne’s home visiting contract with the Chicago Department of Family Support Services (DFSS) requires a Family Support Specialist credential for home visitors, which includes earning a bachelor’s degree within five years. The DFSS contract supports RefugeeOne’s home visiting workforce in meeting these coursework and degree requirements by paying tuition and covering the cost of course supplies; otherwise, costs would be burdensome for the home visitors who typically do not have higher education credentials when they are hired.


RefugeeOne’s implementation of Baby TALK is funded for 48 slots per year by the Chicago Department of Family Support Services through state Prevention Initiative funds, described in the overview. Additional RefugeeOne services, including its clinical mental health services for adult caregivers, are funded 80 percent by private philanthropy, which allows more flexibility in the duration and intensity of services they can offer.

Monitoring and Evaluation

An evaluation of RefugeeOne’s Baby TALK home visiting program that randomly assigned 101 parents to a Baby TALK intervention group and 99 parents to a control group found significant impacts on children’s social-emotional and language development after families had participated for 12 months. The evaluation is notable for overcoming challenges related to recruitment of refugee families into a research study and addressing ethical concerns about withholding services from refugee families by using a waitlist design. The study has been submitted to HomVEE, which reviews and determines home visiting models’ eligibility for federal MIECHV home visiting funds. However, the model’s evaluation has not yet been selected for review, most likely due to the criteria that HomVEE uses to prioritize models to review each year (e.g., number of studies submitted, size of sample).

Illinois School District 146 Baby TALK

Illinois Community Consolidated School District 146 is in Tinley Park, a diverse community with a large immigrant population located approximately 30 miles southwest of Chicago. Its Bridges Birth to Three program serves eligible families using the Baby TALK model. The state’s Prevention Initiative definition of at-risk families informs the eligibility criteria for the program and includes factors such as low family income (near or below the federal poverty line), risk of child developmental delay, not speaking English in the home, immigration status, and not having a support network. The eligibility determination process involves a family interview and child developmental screening using the ASQ and ASQ:SE conducted by the Bridges Birth to Three program coordinator. Children with positive developmental screens are also referred to Part C Early Intervention.

Bridges Birth to Three serves approximately 40 families at a time with three home visitors (called Family Support Specialists (FSSs)), and there is a short waitlist. The majority of families are eligible based on their immigration status and not speaking English as a first language in the home. Approximately sixty percent of families are Arabic-speaking immigrants and 30 percent are Spanish-speaking immigrants. The other ten percent speak English or another non-English language. About one-quarter of children are also in early intervention. Two of the FSS home visitors speak Arabic and one speaks Spanish.

Most referrals to the program are through word of mouth from existing families. Other sources include community screening events, the program website, the school district’s state-funded preschool program in cases where a child has an infant or toddler sibling, and partnerships with local organizations such as Arabic American Services and Together We Cope, a prevention services agency.

Ninety-seven percent of enrolled families complete the program and typically exit when a child reaches age three. FSSs aim to conduct two home visits a month, with some higher need families receiving weekly visits or twice-monthly visits combined with check-in calls. FSSs use a postpartum depression screening tool at program entry if the FSS feels the mother might be at risk and also conduct an ASQ:SE screening every six months with children who are not in early intervention. During the course of home visits parents may also discuss their mental health needs. FSSs refer families to local family support centers offering therapy on a sliding scale. FSSs can also work with school district social workers to support families’ mental health needs, and the Bridges Birth to Three program has a mental health consultant who holds monthly meetings with the program team and is available on call for case consultation. The mental health consultant conducts regular reflective supervision with the Bridges Birth to Three coordinator, who in turn conducts reflective supervision with the FSSs.

The FSSs appreciate the flexibility of the Baby TALK home visiting approach, which does not entail following a rote checklist but rather encourages FSSs and families to develop goals together. FSSs draw on the Baby TALK curriculum, but are not required to engage with families in Baby TALK activities that are not culturally meaningful to them. FSSs are encouraged to follow parents’ lead during home visits, which fosters close relationships between FSSs and families and allows families to be open about their needs. This allows the home visitor to make referrals to community resources and partnerships, which the program supervisor establishes by visiting local organizations and service providers. Some examples of partnerships include public libraries, local preschools and child care centers, housing and financial support centers, and cultural support centers. At times it can be challenging for families to access these resources because of language barriers, however the FSSs are fluent in the two most used languages in the program, Arabic and Spanish, and can assist families by translating and/or visiting the resource together.

The FSS home visitors all have bachelor’s degrees. In addition to the Baby TALK core training, they take Brazelton TouchPoints training and 10-12 additional trainings within 18 months of hire covering topics such as child development, poverty, and safety. The hiring process is deliberate, as having FSSs who share a cultural background and language with the families helps them to establish trust. This is especially critical among families who are undocumented immigrants.

Bridges Birth to Three also holds two monthly play groups, which follow the Baby TALK curriculum. An activity such as story time or songs, conducted in more than one language, is followed by group discussion. In-person meetings last 60 minutes. Attendance increased with the virtual groups held during the pandemic as these were easier to attend and families had been left more isolated by lockdown restrictions.


Bridges Birth to Three is fully funded by the state Prevention Initiative grant program and is free for families.

Monitoring and Evaluation

In addition to the Baby TALK preparation and encounter forms required by Baby TALK, which are used to measure model fidelity, FSSs identify goals and conduct a family needs assessment with each family at the beginning of Baby TALK, which are updated regularly as needed. Bridges Birth to Three has developed a survey specific to its own program and community to help inform decision-making (e.g., should virtual play groups continue?) and will be implementing an annual family survey to assess how the families feel about their FSS, playgroups, and the Bridges Birth to Three program overall. A state reporting form is also completed each spring (or when a family exits) asking families about their experiences in the program.

Quality improvement is dictated by the results of fidelity monitoring that is conducted by the Baby TALK national office every three years. The results of the 2020 monitoring process were used to develop a plan that identified quality improvement goals and benchmarks to measure progress toward them.

Additional tracking includes monthly completion rates (e.g., the percentage of completed home visits compared to the expected number), playgroup attendance, and participation in other family engagement opportunities offered by the school district early learning programs. These data help determine programmatic goals and inform projections for future changes to the program. Bridges Birth to Three hopes to begin tracking the progress of participants as they move up through early elementary grades through third grade.

Special thanks to the following individuals for providing information for and/or reviewing this profile: Cindy Bardeleben, Executive Director, Baby TALK; Ellen Walsh, Director, Baby TALK Learning Institute; Aimee Hilado, University of Chicago, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice; and Tiffany Hall, Bridges Birth to Three Coordinator, Illinois Community Consolidated School District 146.

Last updated December 2021

IECMH Consultation in ECE and Home Visiting: Illinois Model for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

The aim of the Illinois Model for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Consultation, which was developed by the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership through their Mental Health Consultation Initiative, is to provide a comprehensive approach to IECMH consultation for consultants working in a variety of early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings, including child care, prekindergarten, Head Start, and home visiting programs. The Illinois Model for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation guide describes features of the model, including its definition of IECMH consultation, the role of the consultants and their competencies, consultation components and activities, and workforce qualifications and development. Underlying the model is an assumption that the ongoing, job-embedded professional development provided by consultation is critical to developing and maintaining the IECMH capacity of the ECEC workforce. Individuals in diverse positions, including state agency leaders, advocates, and early childhood service providers, helped design the model and informed it with a range of perspectives.

The original model and guide were developed in 2016, and findings from an extensive pilot evaluation were published in 2021 (see Monitoring and Evaluation section of this profile for more information on the evaluation). Implementation of the model is now led by a state leadership team in the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), and this team will oversee revisions to the model in 2021 to incorporate lessons and findings from the evaluation, including specific guidance around dosage.  Dosage is ultimately determined by consultants in conjunction with ECEC program leadership and reflects program size and needs. However, the model’s approach to IECMH consultation as a capacity-building prevention/promotion service assumes the consultant will work with a program for at least two years (with the exception of special situations). Typically, the intensity and frequency of consultation services will be greatest initially and decrease over the course of consultation as goals are met.

The model requires consultants to have a minimum of a master’s degree in mental health, such as social work, counseling, psychology, family and marriage therapy, psychiatry, or in either child development (specifically early childhood) or nursing with additional education in mental health. It also requires at least five years of experience in areas related to infant and early childhood development and mental health; consultants should also possess a demonstrated ability to engage in reflective practice and adopt a consultative stance.

To deliver consultation using the model, consultants must participate in preservice training and ongoing supports. Originally the preservice training consisted of an in-person three-day orientation, with a one-day in-person follow-up and a one-day online follow-up. Since COVID, the orientation is delivered as 18 hours of interactive virtual training in a series of two- and three-hour sessions. This format is likely to continue post-COVID as most consultants are independent contractors and the shorter sessions fit better with their work schedules. The orientation and other professional development services are delivered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA).

The orientation sessions cover: a close examination of consultation and the role of consultants; infant-early childhood mental health; community engagement; reflective consultation; observation, screening, assessment, and strategizing with consultees about effective supports for children and families; co-facilitation of groups; Facilitating Attuned Interactions (FAN) training; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Participants also receive an introductory training on the Pyramid Model to understand where IECMH consultation fits on the Pyramid as a support. Participants take a self-report skills assessment prior to the orientation and receive individualized support afterwards based on areas identified in the assessment that need strengthening. This individualized support consists of a report prepared by INCCRRA for the consultant with information on online resources, books, and in-person trainings related to the identified areas. Required ongoing supports for all consultants include reflective supervision and participation in reflective learning groups, as well as online training modules launching in 2021 that will align with the orientation topics and cover their content in greater depth. Consultants also attend an annual statewide two-day retreat. GOECD and INCCRRA will offer statewide quarterly calls with consultants to provide information on professional development opportunities and any changes or developments within the model.

All consultants who participate in the orientation can be included in the statewide IECMH consultant database that will launch in spring 2021. The database includes a wide range of information, some of which will be available on the front end for public use and some of which will be for back-end use by the leadership team and model administrators. Front-end, publicly available information includes: consultants’ professional experience and qualifications; language(s) spoken; demographic information; service delivery area; a personal statement; and ECEC program experience (e.g., child care, Head Start, home visiting). Users will be able to filter results by consultants’ service delivery area, language(s) spoken, and ECEC program experience. The public database will serve as a resource for programs to locate and contract with consultants, as well as a tool to educate programs on what to look for in effective consultation. Back-end information, provided by consultants, includes: completed trainings; participation in ongoing supports such as reflective learning groups, reflective supervision, and online training modules; and information about the consultation services they deliver to programs.

Consultants trained on the model meet the requirements established for consultation by each ECEC system, allowing individual consultants to work with programs in more than one sector, either concurrently or sequentially. Since 2018, 159 consultants have been trained on the model, with the intention to have 300 by 2023. The aim is to have consultation available for all systems serving children birth to age five in the state by 2025. Assumptions about consultant workloads (such as a ratio of 18 programs per consultant) and program demand (each program will receive services from a consultant) have generated an estimate of approximately 600 consultants needed to serve all ECEC settings, though this estimate may overstate actual demand. While attracting professionals who meet the education and experience requirements has not, overall, been difficult initially, some rural parts of the state have faced challenges.

A committee within the Illinois Mental Health Consultation leadership team is working to address diversity and equity concerns to ensure all children have access to IECMH consultation regardless of setting. One challenge the committee aims to address is the difficulty faced by some ECEC programs, especially among child care providers with fewer resources and staff, in arranging staff coverage for some of the consultation services specified in the model, such as reflective consultation with staff and program administrators and providing trainings to staff. The leadership team is also engaging in efforts to recruit a more diverse consultant workforce to better reflect the communities in which they work.


Funding for the training, ongoing supports, and database is currently divided between the federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) and private foundations. The PDG B-5 funding will last through 2022 and the Illinois Mental Health Consultation leadership team is seeking sustainable sources of state funding. The Governor’s Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding is studying these funding challenges in order to make recommendations concerning funding goals and mechanisms, and to advise the governor in planning and implementing these recommendations. Funding during the initial five-year period encompassing the model development, pilot and evaluation, and initial work developing the training orientation and database came from private funders.

Funding for the IECMH consultation services comes from the systems whose programs receive the funding.  The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program covers costs for IECMH consultation in home visiting in Illinois. Consultation for child care programs is available through the state’s Caregiver Connections program, which is funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Programs receiving state preschool funds can include funding for consultation in their grant proposal to the state as an allowable expense, a practice encouraged by the State Board of Education. These programs then contract directly with consultants to deliver consultation services. Head Start programs, which have funding in their grants for IECMH consultation, similarly contract directly with consultants.

Monitoring and Evaluation

A pilot of the model, including a formal evaluation, was led by the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, which convened a 40-person leadership team with representatives from all sectors served by the consultants as well as funders and evaluators. Twenty-three sites participated in the pilot (fifteen sites received the Illinois Model and the remaining sites were in the control group). The groups included child care, state-funded preschool, Head Start, and home visiting programs in urban, mid-size city, and rural settings. Most of ECE settings have a mix of child care, state preschool, and Head Start services and funding. Eight comparison sites with similar demographics serve as a control group. The leadership team worked to identify and recruit the sites and the 14 consultants who were trained on the model to serve them. In only one instance did a consultant have a preexisting relationship with a site. A final report with outcomes data was published in 2021.

The evaluation collected data from program directors, early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers, and consultants through parent, consultant, and ECEC provider surveys, child and classroom observations, and videos of home visits. Data will be used to examine the fidelity of the model’s implementation and impacts on: consultant-provider relationships and provider knowledge, stress, and well-being; provider-child interaction quality; and parent-child relationships and child social-emotional outcomes (e.g., reductions in challenging behavior).  Early findings on implementation showed that the model was delivered with fidelity. Most of the consultation requests in ECE settings were related to a particular child, and the greatest amount of consultant time was spent on reflective professional development with staff, which provides opportunities for safe discussions about concerns and staff responses to program conditions, families, and children’s behavior that will allow the planning and delivery of supportive strategies to address children’s needs. Other consultation activities include: conducting observations, screenings, and assessments; co-facilitation of discussion groups for staff; and providing trainings to providers (e.g., on topics such as intimate partner violence, substance use, attachment, postpartum depression, trauma, and safe sleep).

At the same time the pilot and evaluation were underway, the leadership team began to develop the statewide consultation database. When determining the range and depth of data that the database should collect, it looked at the data collection process used by the evaluation and ongoing lessons learned as the pilot moved forward. The statewide database will be used to conduct ongoing monitoring of IEMCH consultation statewide, as well as support ECE sites in finding a consultant. This will include analyses showing where and what type of consultation services are being delivered.

Special thanks to the following individuals for providing information for and reviewing this profile: Colette Lueck, former Director, Illinois Mental Health Consultation Initiative; Christine Brambila, IECMHC Coordinator, and Lori Orr, Director of Workforce Policy, Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development; Amanda Walsh, Director, Katelyn Kanwischer, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, and Julianna McHale, Program Coordinator, Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership.

Last updated February 2021

IECMH in Part C Early Intervention: Social-Emotional Consultants

The Child & Family Connections (CFC) system in Illinois is responsible for responding to referrals to the state’s early intervention (EI) system and providing service coordination. Among other services, the state’s 25 CFCs receive referrals; provide information to families; coordinate evaluations, assessments, and IFSP development; and facilitate provision of EI and non-EI services for families.

The state’s EI program has a social-emotional (SE) component, described in the state’s Child & Family Connections Procedure Manual. Each CFC has an SE consultant, either full-time or part-time, who is responsible for ensuring that certain SE supports are delivered. The SE consultant is required to have a master’s degree in child development, special education, psychology, social work, counseling, or a related field; knowledge and training in infant development and IECMH (including the DC:0-5), reflective supervision, and consultation; supervised clinical experience with children and families; and experience providing EI services (though SE consultants do not provide direct services to families). The SE supports provided by the state’s EI program and the CFCs include:

  1. Relationship-based training in EI offered by the Illinois Early Intervention Training Program, including sessions on topics related to social-emotional development and building relationships with families. CFC program managers, service coordinators, SE consultants, and EI providers are required to complete relationship-based training.
  2. Reflective consultation for the CFC program manager provided by the SE consultant, which helps program managers address the challenges they face in their work and strengthen their ability to provide reflective supervision to other CFC staff, including service coordinators and parent liaisons.
  3. Integrated assessment and intervention planning, in which the SE consultant works with service coordinators on interpreting findings from interviews, screenings, and assessments to inform the development of an Individual Family Service Plan.
  4. Case consultation, provided by the SE consultant, who holds small group sessions with CFC staff, and in some cases with EI providers, to help consider the child’s SE development, the family’s experiences and needs, and staff and provider experiences working with the family.
  5. Facilitation of the SE consultants’ peer support activities, which include regular meetings with other consultants to discuss best practices in EI and appropriate supports and referrals.
  6. Parent-to-parent mini-grants, administered by CFC program managers and parent liaisons, to expand support for families, including through parent newsletters, parent support meetings, and parent seminars.
  7. Reflective supervision for CFC staff, such as service coordinators and parent liaisons, individually or in groups, provided by the CFC program manager and supervised by the SE consultant.
  8. EI provider workgroups, in which the SE consultant and CFC program manager offer trainings, case consultation, and informal peer consultation to EI providers.

The SE consultant works with CFC management and staff to determine the amounts of each type of support to be delivered by the CFCs. In practice, case consultation and supporting reflective practice have been a large part of the SE consultants’ workload. During the pandemic, SE consultants’ efforts have focused on helping CFC staff and EI providers address issues related to COVID-19, including their own and EI families’ mental health and other challenges resulting from the pandemic.


SE consultants are salaried employees of CFCs, which receive funding to provide services (including SE-related supports) through state contracts based on their caseload size. Caseload size determines whether there is funding for a full-time or part-time SE consultant. The funding for CFCs that covers SE consultant and related services comes from a state appropriation.

Monitoring and Evaluation

An evaluation was conducted by the Erikson Institute on a pilot initiative that served as the basis for the current SE consultants. The pilot had 10 core elements, including training for SE consultants on supporting parent-child and EI provider-family relationships, reflective supervision and case consultation for service coordinators, and social-emotional screening and integrated assessment and intervention planning for children. Based on pre- to post-pilot data from participant questionnaires, the evaluation found perceived benefits and reported changes in practice from reflective supervision, case consultation, and social-emotional screening. Participants also increased their knowledge of infant-toddler social-emotional development in eight assessed areas, such as signs of a healthy parent-child relationship, and reported increases in skills and use of relationship-based practices, such as initiating discussions with parents about relationship and behavioral concerns.

Monitoring data related to the SE component are not collected at the state level. However, the Erikson Institute has proposed follow-up research to further investigate the implementation and outcomes of the SE component.

Special thanks to Ann Freiburg, Part C Coordinator, Bureau of Early Intervention, Illinois Department of Human Services, for providing information for this profile.

Last updated February 2021