Birth to 3 Program
Guiding principles outline what we believe to be important. They provide a framework for our
decision-making. The following guiding principles were adopted by the Governor's appointed
Interagency Coordinating Council in December, 1988.
Children's optimal development depends on their being viewed first as children and second
as children with a problem or disability. All children have the same basic needs for
acceptance, affection, nurturing and security. The system should encourage the integration
of children with disabilities with children who do not have disabilities. The developmental,
social, emotional and physical needs of all children must be considered in the delivery
of any service. We must always ask ourselves, are we considering the whole child or just
one facet of the child?
Children's greatest resource is their family. Children are best served within the
context of family. Young children's needs are closely tied to the needs of their family.
Both must be met to adequately serve the child. The nurturing, love, and commitment of
a family cannot be replaced by any array of services. The best way to support children
and meet their needs is to support and build upon the individual strengths of their
family. The Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) focuses on how the system can
support the "whole" family, its cultural values, strengths, and needs.
Parents are partners in any activity that serves their children. Parents or primary
caregivers have a unique understanding of their children's needs. They are the primary
teachers of their children. They have the special bond of kinship and commitment that no
professional will ever have. They must be given the opportunity and encouragement to be
a part of the decision-making process and empowered so that they are a partner in the
services developed for their child.
Just as children are best supported within the context of family, the family is best
supported within the context of the community. Families depend on the positive
relationships they make through the formal and informal networks in the community.
Community resources should be open and able to respond to all families. Successful
supportive services value the integrity of the family, its unique needs and cultural
heritage, and provide a link to traditional community resources.
Professionals are most effective when they can work as a team member with parents and
others. This requires flexibility and openness, joint training experiences, shared
views of infant and family development, and commitment to team cooperation. The abilities
of a variety of individuals both paid and volunteer to teach, assist, and develop
relationships which help families must be recognized and promoted.
Collaboration is the best way to provide comprehensive services. No single agency
is able to provide all services to all children and families. Cooperation and shared
responsibility are necessary components of a service system that is able to meet the
varied needs of children and families. Just as agencies must establish partnerships
at the local level, the state must assume a role as a partner with local communities
to enhance our mutual ability to serve young children with disabling conditions and
Early intervention enhances the development of children. Early intervention is
appropriate for children and families. It is often cost efficient and effective for
society and the taxpayer. The goals of early intervention are to: enhance the capacity
of families to meet the special needs of their child, maximize the potential for
independent living, and reduce costs to our society.
For information on the Birth to Three Program or to request additional copies, please
write B-3 Newsletter, Division of Community Services, P.O. Box 7851, Madison, WI 53707.
Last Revised: April 17, 2013