According to Census 2011 data there are 164.48 million children in India of 0-6 years of age. The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) tells us that 10% of Indian children have developmental delays or disabilities. This translates into almost 16.5 million children who need immediate intervention to help them move towards the optimal path to growth and development. The efficacy of Early Childhood Intervention has been endorsed by academic studies by Harvard and Brookings Institute among others. In fact, the US views it to as a critical service to the extent that it is federally funded and offered free of cost.
Traditional developmental services are provided in a piecemeal, siloed fashion where the child works with multiple specialists such as Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Child Psychologists etc. An Early Interventionist cuts across these different disciplines and is able to provide comprehensive support and advice to families about their young child’s growth. In addition to this, the Early Interventionist guides the family on how they can introduce changes in the baby’s day-to-day routine to augment his/her development. The Early Interventionist is also equipped to identify whether a child could benefit from more specific speech-language, occupational, physiotherapy, or medical services.
Over time, they want to make Early Intervention services available to children all across India. One of the major challenges in being able to do so is the severe lack of trained Early Interventionists. Recognizing this gap, they will be launching a training programme for ECI in 2018.