Continuity of Early Intervention Services in New York City During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords:Children with disabilities, COVID-19, Early intervention services, Health services research, Teletherapy
In response to COVID-19, the New York City Early Intervention (EI) Program rapidly transitioned from in-person to teletherapy services. We describe the timing of service resumption among children who received EI services between March 1 and March 17, 2020. The proportion of children who transitioned to teletherapy-only was 25% as of March 24, rising to 78% by July 6. By December 31, 2020, 87% of the cohort had resumed either teletherapy or in-person services. Child age, race, language, and neighborhood poverty all predicted service resumption timing. Children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder were more likely to transition to teletherapy, and children with only 1-2 domains of delay were more likely to discontinue services altogether. Continuity of EI services during the COVID-19 public health emergency was a critical priority. Timely policy changes facilitated swift return to services and avoided exacerbation of the long-standing racial disparities in access to EI services.
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