Category: Resourceful Young Children | Test population-based models of provision | 15 August, 2013 - 14:00← BACK
Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent disabilities at birth. In South Africa, 17 babies are born deaf every day. Language is one of the essential components of normal child development and without it significant delays emerge: communication and language foundations are undermined, relationships with parents and siblings suffer, cognitive development (particularly higher functioning, abstract and metacognitive processes) are delayed, and children struggle with literacy and general educational achievements. With 90% of deaf children being born into hearing families who have never been exposed to hearing loss, great trauma and grief is experienced after the diagnosis. Without intervention the impact of the lack of communication and the severe unresolved grief lead to irreparable familial relational damage. In addition, the cost of unidentified hearing loss in terms of specialised education, reliance on state grants as adults, and loss of income due to poor literacy and reduced employability is around R1,000,000 over the lifetime of the deaf individual. Thus early intervention is imperative.
The HI HOPES Strategy
HI HOPES was developed to address the lack of holistic early intervention services available to families with deaf children. We aim to support, inform and empower families in an unbiased way to make informed decisions about their children; and to give these children the opportunity to reach all the appropriate language and developmental milestones that would enable them to become fully-functional adults. A trained, specialised Interventionist, who is from their local community, visits each family that we serve.
Our strategy is to provide personalised, home-based, early intervention support to families with a hard of hearing or deaf child. We employ locally trained Interventionists (Parent Advisors) who visit each family for one hour fortnightly, and who give individualised program support regarding the child and the family’s needs, in the home language of the household. The Interventionist supports the parents by offering unbiased knowledge and information regarding all aspects of their child’s development. The Interventionist supports the deaf child to develop to his/her full capacity. This development is monitored and quarterly assessments of language are done to track their progress.
IMPLEMENTATION TO DATE
HI HOPES has been in operation for 7 years and has supported over 870 children and families with hearing loss in 3 South African provinces. We have trained 298 interventionists (including Parent Advisors and Deaf Mentors).
We initially started in the province in which we lived, as we knew and understood the local structures and social dynamics. We appointed an extremely well qualified and respected Program Director, and submitted and received funding to execute our goals. Before beginning our operations we consulted with local stakeholders and representatives from the deaf community and professionals from the field. Their input helped us better frame our program strategy and fostered local support for our initiative. Next we advertised the Interventionist positions, recruited participants and conducted our first training session. The training was challenging and we learnt many lessons from this (see our previous learning brief), which we used to modify future training curricula. Once our program services were fully operational we started getting referrals and we began supporting families in their homes. We also held quarterly meetings for Parent Advisors, and gave them extra support and training as needed.
Running a provincial program came with many challenges such as managing the referral-intervention process, getting administration and paper work processed, communicating with our Parent Advisors, supporting them to develop and grow further. We were the first program of this kind and had to develop our strategy without any best-practice model / template. As such, we have spent a long time modifying and testing operations at the smaller scale to perfect them before attempting to scale-up our operation. After a while we gained credibility and a strong reputation for delivering quality service. Representatives from other provinces contacted us seeking similar service provision. This was encouraging and subsequently we expanded our program into three provinces, and we are currently expanding to two more provinces.
BEST PRACTICE TIPS FOR PROGRAM SCALE-UP AND SERVICE EXPANSION
Before growing and scaling up the reach of our services, we have been working toward documenting, improving and solidifying our processes to ensure that we are indeed ready for scaling up. Below are some steps that we will be following as we grow into the 4th province and beyond.
27 St Andrews Street, Parktown, Johannesburg
(011) 717 3750
Learn best practice tips for program scale-up and service expansion of a personalised, home-based, early intervention program to support families with a hard of hearing or deaf child.