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RISP Frequently Asked Questions


What are RISP early intervention services?
How can early services help your child's development?
Who would benefit from RISP services?
How will RISP staff work with your family?
Can RISP work with my day care provider?
Who can refer a child to this program?
Where are RISP services located?
Who pays for the program?
What do parents and families have to say about RISP services?
Current Program Report for the Rural Infant Services Program (PDF)


What are RISP early intervention services?

Once RISP gets a referral, your child receives one or more of the following services, as needed, based on his or her individualized plan. Note that every child may not need all of these services.
  • Developmental screening
  • Assessment/Evaluation
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Developmental therapy (Infant education)
  • Service coordination (Case management)
  • Consultation in specialty areas and for children with unique needs
  • Family support activities and links to other community services
  • Special training events
  • Lending library of materials and equipment
How can early services help your child's development?

Many children seem to learn everyday skills easily, including crawling, walking, talking, playing, and eating. Some children, however, need special help to learn these skills, and the RISP staff can help parents give their children that extra help. Working with children early in their lives is the best way to help reduce developmental delays and can sometimes prevent developmental problems. For young children with special needs, early intervention services are a very worthwhile investment in the future, offering many benefits as the child gets older.

Who would benefit from RISP services?

We help children from birth to three years old, including those born prematurely or with a medical problem that may cause developmental delays. We also help children who have a disability or who are having problems learning to walk, talk, play, eat, or get along with others.

All children will grow and learn - some quickly, some more slowly. Their families are central to fostering their development.

How will RISP staff work with your family?

Our services aim to help families address areas of concern about their children. Each time we visit, we share information about how parents can help their child. We depend on parents to let us know how their child is doing and what is working best for both parent and child.

Can RISP work with my day care provider?

Since a child in day care typically responds best to familiar people in any setting, it would be most helpful for a day care provider to be actively involved in the RISP visits. This way, RISP staff and the child's care provider can work together to address the family's concerns, as well as any issues that have been noted in the day care setting. RISP visits are also a good time to try out different suggestions and to find out what works best for the child.

Childcare is busy enough, so RISP staff members do not want to add to it by asking providers to create "therapy" time each day. Instead, RISP staff will show how to adapt some of the existing routines and activities using materials that are already in the day care setting to help encourage child development. Before beginning services in the day care setting, RISP staff will ask to meet with the care provider to make sure that our services will be helpful and feasible.

Who can refer a child to this program?

Our referrals generally come from doctors, families, and from many agencies and programs in the community that work closely with us, such as hospitals, public health, home health agencies, public schools, social services, child care, and other public and private agencies interested in young children. Anyone who refers a child to RISP should obtain parental permission before making a referral.

Where are RISP services located?

Young children learn best in their "natural environment," which is usually in their home or day care setting. RISP staff usually visits a child at home, and can also provide some services in the day care setting, if the parent and childcare provider are interested.

Who pays for the program?

RISP receives funding from a variety of sources, including state and local dollars through the Community Services Board. RISP also receives funding from other state and local agencies, civic groups, individuals, and organizations.

Additional funding comes from Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), so there is never a charge to a family for some services, such as a child's developmental screening, evaluation, plan development, or service coordination.

RISP is licensed as an outpatient rehabilitation program and charges a fee for direct physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Most health insurance will cover part or all of the cost of these services.

If the cost of RISP services would be a hardship to any family, our agency can use a statewide sliding fee scale to reduce the charges to the family based on its income and need. No family is ever denied services because of inability to pay.

What do parents and families have to say about RISP services?

Statistics are important, but they do not tell the whole story. They cannot measure the impact of a young child achieving a goal that his or her family did not even dare to dream would be possible: a toddler with cerebral palsy taking her first steps, a child with hearing impairment using sign language for the first time, or the smile of a baby who is blind when he recognizes his grandmother's face by touch. In addition to identifying specific goals for each child and measuring progress toward those goals, RISP continues to measure parent satisfaction with program components. Here is the impact that some families have told us about:

"Our service coordinator was superb! She always took time to hear our concerns and sent us articles that would be helpful. She turned out to be a great friend and a valuable source of information."

"We were given lots of helpful information each week. We are very grateful!"

"With [my son's] hypertonia I thought my goals for him would be difficult to achieve, but everyone was and still is optimistic, and he has come a long way. He's moving his head a lot with a lot of control, he's playing with toys, he recognizes his sister, myself, and his dad. He loves to laugh. He's responding really well. He also knows when someone's coming to see him and I believe he loves them too."

"RISP was wonderful in helping my grandson with his speech - [service coordinator] did a great job! She helped us through everything one needed. I am very pleased with all your staff. We were given all services needed and the workers were fantastic!"

"I wanted to mention the extras that they do. My two girls are never left out when they come. Someone always has a toy or something for them to play with. And they include them in [my son's] therapy and always have a kind word for my kids, and I love the way they include them. But not only are they kind to my kids but to me as well, they are always asking me how I'm doing, if I'm taking care of myself and all, and it makes me feel special. When they show me a certain exercise to do with [my son] and I get it right, I feel so proud."

"Having the visits at home let our daughter be more comfortable so she could participate fully in the therapy."

"I was very scared when RISP first came to my home. Not only was my daughter my first child but she was severely handicapped. RISP helped me through my fears. RISP was very helpful finding the most appropriate equipment for my child when needed. Also with respite care they were very helpful, finding individuals who were interested in helping our family."

"They helped me understand my child's conditions and helped me to take care of him better with a better understanding."

"The staff always showed me what stretches, sounds, and activities would benefit my child most. They even helped suggest toys that would help him and make the exercises and different tasks easier. I participated in all of the home visits conducted by the RISP staff and I learned a lot from them."

"My son loved working with [speech therapist and infant educator]. He finally learned to talk and now he talks about everything. As far as I'm concerned, they worked miracles!"