Time and time again, studies have shown that early intervention services are critical in improving health outcomes for millions of children. Services for young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays have been shown to positively impact outcomes across developmental domains, including health, language and communication, and cognitive and social/emotional development. Locally, PHMC has been administering these critical services for children, from birth to age three, and their families, through its ChildLink—Philadelphia County program since 1992.

Contracted by the City of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, ChildLink staff work in partnership with parents, early intervention specialists and therapists to evaluate each child's needs, identify outcomes, explore options and develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for each eligible child and family. The program coordinates early intervention support services and provides ongoing monitoring throughout eligibility, even assisting eligible children to transition at age three to preschool early intervention. These services are provided at no cost to families.

Recently, PHMC's ChildLink–Philadelphia County program was recognized by the Federal Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) for strong performance across key indicators. Indicators included IFSP development, offering early intervention services, assessment and evaluation, an initial IFSP meeting, follow-through in a timely and efficient manner, as well as providing timely transition to appropriate services following a child's third birthday. These positive ratings speak to the strength of the ChildLink program and commitment from staff.

Over the last six years, the Early Intervention Program has worked to increase enrollment through a comprehensive outreach effort to area hospitals and private physician offices, child care providers, home care providers, other social service agencies and area shelters. ChildLink has also worked closely with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Einstein Healthcare Network and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children on medical resident training programs to increase the outcomes of their referrals.

"Our collaboration with the medical community has led to tremendous growth in our referral program for children and families in need of services," said Sara Molina-Robinson, Senior Program Director, ChildLink. "The physicians and residents we've educated about early intervention services through ChildLink are more likely to refer a child when development issues arise."

ChildLink's performance not only makes a strong impact in our local community, but also contributes to the Early Intervention Program at the state level. In July 2013 OSEP recognized Pennsylvania's program with the highest determination rating, due to the work of many local partners, such as PHMC.