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ECIP program keeps very busy for Holy Family School Division

The Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECIP) has a full caseload in the Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division
0904-SMS-Christmas sock day
The students in Beth Risling's Grade 1 class showed off their Christmas socks in class at St. Michael School. ECIP services are available to children up to six years old, including those in this class.

WEYBURN – The Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECIP) has a full caseload in the Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division, and are so busy there are children on the waiting list who need their services.

The Holy Family board of trustees heard an update on the program from program manager Shannon Culy, who also provides ECIP services to the Southeast Cornerstone School Division. These two school divisions are the only ones in Saskatchewan that have ECIP within their divisions.

She said she appreciates having this program in the school divisions, as it makes it much easier for program workers to connect with the students and their families.

Children are referred to ECIP if there are any developmental or emotional delays, and the program is available for children from birth up to six years, including when they are in kindergarten or Grade 1.

Culy noted that some people mistakenly believe the children are done with ECIP as soon as they’re in school, but they’re eligible for assistance up to six years of age.

Referrals have come in from playschools and daycares, as well as from health care professionals, and on average children are part of their caseloads for two and a half years. “More and more referrals are coming from parents and from Pre-K or Kindergarten teachers,” she added.

There were 17 referrals in the 2020-21 school year, and 31 referrals in the 2021-22 school year, with 12 new referrals currently on the rolls so far, with 35 children on the caseloads right now. Culy noted that it is highly likely there will be more coming in the current school year.

She said the provincial average for an ECIP worker is to have 18-20 on their caseload, and there are four children she’s aware of that are on the wait list and have no access to services right now.

“2017 is the last time we had kids on the wait list. This year we’re really full, so we’re doing the best we can,” said Culy, commenting she feels badly for these children as they have no access to programs that could help them outside of ECIP.

On the positive side, “we’re getting to them earlier, so they stay on the caseloads longer,” she added, with every family getting two home visits a month.

“Some families we’d like to see more frequently,” she added.

The Estevan area has 12 children, Weyburn has 22 and Radville has one currently.

Visits usually last about an hour, and a worker will see four to five families a day on average. Sometimes they meet families at early learning resource centres (such as in Weyburn and Estevan) where they have full access to programs and play areas.

There are a number of screening tests available for ECIP to use, with some being a quick checklist to see how a child is doing developmentally, or to determine what social or emotional needs a child may have.

“When I’m not doing visits, I’m doing school visits and outreach programs,” said Culy, noting she just did one at Radville and was going to be at St. Michael School for a visit the day following the board meeting. She noted Estevan has a drop in and play program at their resource centre.

“A lot of kids there are the only child in their families, so they’re isolated, so what we’re doing is I’m offering them play programs and building some parent connections,” she said, adding she also attended Pre-K family outreach events and selection meetings for the Pre-K programs.

“What we’re doing in ECIP is working, because we’re getting early intervention, and we’re getting results,” said Culy, noting they know of 14 new children who will be coming into the Holy Family schools from their program.

“I feel like we’re in a really good spot right now,” she added.