― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
Montana's early intervention system is embarking on a 3-year journey to implement what some people call the McWilliam model, also known as the routines-based early intervention approach. If I loved the state before, which I was beginning to do, I certainly do now!
For years, this was a state I'd never been to, because I pretty much go only to states that invite me. And Montanans saw no need to do that. My friend Mark Wolery, from Montana, had told me about the place--more from the hardscrabble side of things than the romantic side, but he'd also put me on to the writer Ivan Doig, who wrote books about Scottish settlers there. Finally, my wife and I ostensibly took our older daughter there, to a dude ranch outside the western entrance to Glacier National Park, but it was really to get my wife to the park. I went as a reluctant chauffeur between photographable vistas, only to fall in love with the place myself, especially the Swiss-like valleys formed by glaciers.
Still basking in the memories of a great trip, I then get a long epistle from Ted Maloney, who I'd know about more than known for years in the field. He works closely with Erica Swanson, the Montana Part C Coordinator, and they were interested in how I might be able to help them revamp the quality of their early intervention system. We quickly agreed that I would do some awareness workshops, plan with state leaders, and, with my colleague Amy Casey, conduct a Montana Routines-Based Interview bootcamp.
The workshops were productive. People from all over the state got to hear about the model, and I got to learn about how the state was organized and what the state of current practice was. Then we spent 2 days planning with state leaders--directors from the seven agencies responsible for Part C services along with one or more additioanal staff. Plus of course Erica and Ted. I facilitated the meeting, using the FINESSE II, an instrument for assessing typical and ideal practices. By the end of the first day, the group had decided on the seven practices they wanted to implement. The next day, we spent talking about implementation issues: barriers and solutions as well as a timeline. The seven practices they will work on implementing are
- The Routines-Based Interview
- Writing participation-based outcomes
- Incremental (or additive) service decision making
- Collaborative consultation to child care
- Primary service provider
- Consultative home visits
- Consistent consultation by therapists
Oh, yes. I'm in love with Montana.