Chapter 7: Referrals to Child and Family Connections - REVISED 02/2014

7.1 How & When Referrals Are Accepted

  • 7.1.1 Referrals shall be accepted by phone, written correspondence or in person.
  • 7.1.2 CFCs are required to accept all referrals, including referrals for children who are homeless, are the subject of a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect or who have been identified as directly affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure.
  • 7.1.3 Referrals must be entered into Cornerstone based upon the date of receipt. Any referral received on a date that the CFC office is closed must immediately be entered into Cornerstone on the first business day thereafter and must reflect the actual date of receipt. Example: The referral was received on a Saturday morning when the CFC was closed. On Monday, when the CFC is open for business, the CFC will enter the referral using Saturday's date. The date of the referral begins the 45-day intake period allowed to complete eligibility determination and if the child is found to be eligible, the initial Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).

7.2 Confidentially of Referral Information

  • Information obtained by a CFC is considered confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and security must be maintained as described under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

7.3 Primary Referral Sources

  • Primary referral sources are required by federal rule, 34 CFR 303.303, to make referrals to the EI System as defined in 89 Sec., Admin. Code 500.25b). When contacted by the CFC, families have the option to decline services. Primary referral sources include but are not limited to:
    • Hospitals, including perinatal and post-natal care facilities;
    • Physicians;
    • Parents;
    • Child care programs and early learning programs, including Early Head Start programs;
    • Local educational agencies & schools;
    • Public health facilities;
    • Other social services agencies;
    • Other clinics and health care providers;
    • Public agencies and staff in the child welfare system, including child protective service and foster care;
    • Homeless family shelters; and
    • Domestic violence shelters and agencies.

7.4 Contact with Referral Sources

  • 7.4.1 If the CFC is unable to locate the family and the referral source was identified, the CFC may contact the referral source to inform them that the family has not been contacted and to request additional contact information. Once the family has been located, information about the referral may not be given to the referral source without a signed Consent for Release of Information. If the referral source wants to know the outcome of its referral, the referral source should seek consent from the family and provide a copy of a signed Consent for Release of Information to the CFC at the time of referral. Information about referrals may also be given to the referral source if the CFC obtains consent from families using the Consent for Release of Information form.
  • 7.4.2 If the referral is an intact family from a Department of Children Services (DCFS), and are subjects of indicated reports of abuse or neglect or directly affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure, please see DCFS Intact Families at the end of this chapter.

7.5 Exceptions to the 45-Day Time Frame

  • The only exceptions to the 45-day time frame are:
    • if the child or parent is unavailable to complete the initial evaluation, the initial assessments of the child and family or the initial IFSP meeting due to exceptional family circumstances that are documented in the child's EI records; or
    • the parent has not provided consent for the initial evaluation/assessment of the child, despite documented, repeated attempts by the Service Coordinator.

7.6 Review of Referral

  • 7.6.1 Review the date of birth to verify that the child is under age 3. If the child is over age 3, provide information as part of your correspondence on how to access services through the State Board of Education. (see, Sample Letter 1: Ineligible Based On General Eligibility Over Age 3)
  • 7.6.2 Review the child's place of residence to verify that the child is currently living in Illinois. If the child does not currently reside in Illinois, provide information regarding how to access services in the state of residence as part of your correspondence (see, Sample Letter 2: Ineligible Based On General Eligibility -Not an Illinois Resident)
  • 7.6.3 Children residing in private residential facilities that are not funded in part or in full by State or federal monies and have no service standards established that address the developmental needs of children birth to 3 in their care may be enrolled in the Part C EI Program and receive any and all needed EI services.
  • 7.6.4 If it is more than 45 days but less than 90 days before the child will turn 3, proceed with completion of the EI referral process.
  • 7.6.5 If the child will turn 3 in less than 45 days accept the referral and proceed with the following steps.
    • Explain to the family that evaluations, assessments and the initial IFSP meeting are not required for a child that will turn 3 years old in less than 45 days.
    • Do not enter the child's information into the Cornerstone system, unless the Service Coordinator will be obtaining a signed Consent to Use Personally Identifying Information (PII) & Bill Public Benefits form.
    • If the child may be eligible for preschool services under IDEA Part B, speak to the family about a referral to the school district for 3-5 services. Using the Consent for Release of Information form, obtain consents for releasing information to both the Local Education Agency (LEA) where the child resides and the State Education Agency (SEA). With parental consent, complete the Early Intervention to Early Childhood Tracking form, found in Chapter 13-Transition, and send it to both the appropriate LEA, as well as the EI Data Manager, who will forward the form to the SEA.
    • If the child's information has been entered into Cornerstone (the parent signed the Consent to Use Personally Identifying Information (PII) & Bill Public Benefits form, close the case using the appropriate closure code.
    • On a monthly basis, the CFC office will be submitting a report to the EI Program that identifies all children who are referred to EI less than 45 days before their third birthdays. The report will include the child's name and birth date, the parent's name and address, and the outcome of the referral (i.e. the child was referred to the LEA and the SEA for preschool services under Part B, with parental consent or was not referred to the LEA/SEA, either because consent was not received or the child was not potentially eligible for preschool services under Part B.)
  • 7.6.6 If the child is older than 3 years old, refer to 3 to 5 services, if appropriate.
  • 7.6.7 Verify that the child resides in the CFC region using the child's address or zip code or child's placement address or zip code if in foster care. If the address is NOT in your region, ensure that the referral is immediately directed to the appropriate CFC.

7.7 Other Residences to Consider

If the child is homeless and the family cannot provide an address, accept the referral and refer to the Cornerstone Reference Manual for instructions on how to enter the referral.

  • 7.7.1 Homeless means individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence and includes:
    • Children who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
    • Children who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
    • Children who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
    • Migratory children who qualify as homeless due to reasons listed above.
  • 7.7.2 Add or edit the child's enrollment information, as necessary.
  • 7.7.3 If the child's legal guardian is DCFS, enter household of "1" (one) in the system and record "0" (zero) income. Also, the Proof of Income should be "AllKids less than 200% FL". DCFS referrals should already have an initial screening completed prior to referral to EI. The CFC will work with the DCFS Liaison assigned to them if specific issues arise.

7.8 DCFS Intact Families

  • 7.8.1 New intact families with children birth to 3 are automatically referred to the DCFS Intact Early Childhood Program on a weekly basis. Cases are then assigned to a DCFS Intact Family Developmental Specialist.
    • If the child is in a DCFS intact family and are subjects of indicated reports of abuse or neglect or directly affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure, it is the responsibility of the DCFS Intact Family Developmental Specialist to inform the parents of the infant or toddler that DCFS strongly encourages that they permit their child to receive a developmental screening.
  • 7.8.2 It is the responsibility of the DCFS Intact Family Developmental Specialist to complete the following tasks:
    • Collaborate with case managers around scheduling an initial developmental screening using the DCFS Provider Database; assist the family in locating a screening provider within their community.
    • Obtain a Consent for the Release of Information for DCFS Wards form and submits this form to the CFC the child was referred to in order for DCFS to share copies of any previous screenings, evaluations or assessments prior to referral with the CFC and to obtain information from the CFC about the child's referral status, EI evaluations/assessments and a copy of the IFSP for the family record.
    • If the child's screening indicates that there is a need for developmental concerns, explain to the family that EI Program supports and teaches families how to play and learn with their children in ways that will help them gain essential skills, improve their child's developmental, social/emotional and educational growth, make their child more independent, and give the child the best possible start in life;
    • Assist the family with referral to EI system by calling 1-800-323-4769 (automated) or use the DHS Office Locator to identify the CFC office in the family's local area;
    • Communicate the results of the screening with the DCFS Intact Family Case Manager through an email report, and forwards copies of the screening results to the DCFS Intact Family Case Manager to be maintained in the DCFS Intact Family case file.
  • 7.8.3 After the screening and referral process, communication regarding assessment and services is the responsibility of the DCFS Intact Family Developmental Specialist. If the child meets the eligibility requirements for EI the DCFS Intact Family Developmental Specialist will complete the following tasks:
    • Participate in the development of the child's IFSP;
    • Monitor and evaluate the family's follow through with their IFSP and
    • Collaborate with the EI Service Coordinator to engage in an ongoing exchange of information to ensure appropriate service delivery, to support and advocate on behalf of the family as needed, and to stay informed of developmental progress.