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Client Focus: Early Intervention

At age 2, Rashaan was not talking at the level of most children his age. Fortunately, his doctor noticed this delay, diagnosed autism, and ensured that he would receive Early Intervention (EI) speech therapy. EI ends at age 3, but federal law mandates that children in EI be evaluated to transition smoothly into special education services. However, Rashaan’s mother filed multiple requests for the evaluation but failed to get results. Because of the connection between our Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children program and Rashaan’s medical providers, we were informed of this case and many more like it. Program director Amy Zimmerman filed a class complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education, eventually winning the battle and ensuring continuity of care for young children with delays and disabilities. As a direct result of the complaint, the Chicago Public School district reevaluated their failing transition process and developed a more efficiently designed process that holds staff more accountable.