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Often early interventionists, express concerns about the amount of time it takes to complete the RBI. They also have concerns over how a family may feel during the RBI process. OneOp asked a former service coordinator, a parent, and a RBI trainer for their thoughts on these issues. Here is what they had to say. 

Point of View of a Service Coordinator:

“What do you mean the interview should take at least an hour? At least an hour? What?!?!? Do you know how many other things I have to get done during an intake? Medical history, developmental history, Ages & Stages assessment, receipt of rights, consents, insurance, etc. Parents are not going to want me in their house long enough to complete all of that! Besides, why in the world do I need to know every detail about every aspect of the family’s day?”

Do any of these questions (ok, exasperations) sound familiar? I will be the first to admit that I was more than a little skeptical when my state first introduced the Routines Based Interview (RBI) as a required component of the intake process. It seemed like an intrusion that most families just would not like. As a service coordinator, it was my job to help families understand the early intervention system all the while doing my best to relieve any fears or concerns they might have regarding the evaluation process. It was a job I took very seriously.

Looking back at my initial reaction to the RBI, I think most of my resistance stemmed from a belief that I was already collecting very similar information regarding the family’s concerns as well as their daily routines. I did not see the point of using a formal tool to gather information that could be obtained in other, less structured ways. What I learned from the RBI process, however, was how helpful it was in helping me identify specific times of the day where interventions could be naturally embedded. It provided a more holistic picture of the family and how to write IFSP outcomes that were individualized, rather than identical to those of 10 other families on my caseload.

Point of View of a Parent (who is also a future EI provider):

I remember going into the EI program with some anxiety. I did not know what to expect. I had never heard of EI until my son’s pediatrician mentioned it at his 2 yr. old check-up. So when the service coordinator contacted me for a time to meet, I agreed to a time but was apprehensive about having someone I didn’t know come into my home to ask me questions about my family. What was she going to think? Was she going to judge us based on how our home looked or what we wore? I made sure the house was super clean and I was looked presentable, just in case.

When the service coordinator came to the door, she was very friendly right from the start and throughout the initial meeting. As we talked at our dining table, she explained the process to reassure me about the paperwork and the documentation she was taking. I do not recall going through the RBI process but rather it just seemed like a natural conversation. I remember the service coordinator asking about my son’s delivery, our medical history, and any diagnoses on either my or my husband’s side of the family. I only faintly recall her asking me to talk through a typical day for us. She asked if there were any struggles we had during the day and I don’t think I had any concerns with that. If she did do the RBI, it may have lasted 10 minutes or so but not an hour.

To be honest, as a parent, I cannot imagine how well a full RBI would have gone at that point. Having already answered a bunch of questions that I had to really think about to ensure accuracy, to then have to think about every detail of a “typical day” for our family? Yikes! Talk about exhausting!

Now that I am looking at the RBI from a future provider’s perspective, I can see that it is a good thing to ask families about their routines. This allows the provider the opportunity to get to know the family better and to find out their priorities in terms of improvements they want to see for their child and for their family. I do think that trying to schedule the RBI at another time could be helpful so that the Service Coordinator and the family are not doing the intake and the RBI during one session, possibly lasting much longer than either of them desire. On the other hand, I know it can be hard to schedule times to meet and that it might be easier to do everything at one time. It is hard to know what the best solution is, but this is definitely something to always be mindful of when meeting new families.

Point of View of a Routines-Based Interview Trainer and Coach:

A written transcript of this video can be found here.