Child and Family Development Center Early Intervention Program

Promoting positive outcomes for young children and their families

The UIC Child and Family Development Center Early Intervention Program (CFDC) offers coordinated interdisciplinary services in early intervention and early education within the resource-rich academic environment of the Institute on Disability and Human Development, the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities for the State of Illinois.

We promote positive outcomes for young children and their families through play-based evaluation and therapy services; routine-based interventions; and family support, education and training.

Our high-quality services are designed to be flexible and responsive to the needs and priorities of children and families living in an urban environment, and are available to families in their homes, their child’s daycare, and/or in our center located on Chicago’s Near West Side.

Evaluation and therapy services

The majority of our interdisciplinary team is bilingual in English and Spanish. We offer some sign language interventions as well.  Our licensed and credentialed developmental, occupational, physical and speech therapists provide individualized care in a social setting –all within a natural play environment.  Our services include:

  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Developmental therapy

What are natural environments?

Natural environments are the day-to-day activities and settings of family and community life. Routines such as eating, hand washing, getting the mail, or going to the store occur in the lives of most families just as snacks, playtime, and hygiene routines are the core of activities in childcare for infants and toddlers. Although caregivers participate in many routines and activities throughout the day they often do not recognize how many “teachable moments” exist in everyday life. These routines provide many meaningful opportunities for children to learn important life skills.

Why is teaching in natural environments important?

  • Young children learn best when they are taught the skills like eating, playing, moving, and communicating during the times and in the places where they need to eat, walk, or talk to people they know and love.
  • Daily routines are meaningful contexts for young children to learn new skills because they are predictable, functional, and occur numerous times throughout the day. Families and caregivers involved in these routines can support their child’s learning and development.
  • Often one location (such as playing in the backyard) may be the source of many different activities (playing on the swing, slide, sandbox etc.) and each activity offers multiple learning opportunities for the child (climbing up the slide, filling and dumping with a bucket in the sand, balance control on the slide).
  • Parents and caregivers are experts on their lives and on their goals for their child, but may lack the tools to support their child’s development. Sharing resources, information, and specific strategies with caregivers can enhance their ability to address goals for their child within their daily routines.

Intervention services

Home-based services: Many times, families want help in getting through the daily routine and CFDC staff assists you and your child in the home.

Center-based services: We can work with you and your child in our indoor open play and playground setting. Center based services significantly help prepare children for transition to school because they become more familiar with the school routines.

Support and education: Helping children means helping families on any number of issues. Our staff are experts in a wide range of areas including child development, behavior management, communication, conflict resolution and educational systems.

Transition: Your family may experience many transitions over time. Perhaps the most challenging transition is when early intervention services end and preschool begins. We will help prepare your family for those changes.

Advocacy: We can help you learn more about community services that will help your child grow and learn.

Personnel preparation: Our university-based program shares the responsibility of training students and practicing professionals with other units on campus.  Students studying to become teachers, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists come to the CFDC to obtain hands-on learning experiences.

Training and technical assistance

We provide training experiences for practicing professionals, graduate students from a variety of disciplines, early care and education practitioners, and family members designed to build competence and knowledge that ultimately improves the quality of services provided to young children and their families.


Our research program supports ongoing applied research projects that seek to improve the quality of services provided to young children, their families and the organizations that serve them. CFDC researchers contribute new knowledge to the field that helps us better understand how to promote the development of young children and the knowledge and skills of families and early childcare providers.

About us

We are an early intervention services provider in Illinois’ Part C system. Our early intervention program provides individual therapy and transition support services to eligible children 0-3 years old. These services reflect recommended practices in the field of early intervention and are provided by our licensed/credentialed staff.

Our staff also provide additional individual therapy to children 0-5 with speech, motor, feeding, and socio-emotional needs whose insurance plans cover such services. To learn more about early intervention services in Illinois, or simply to learn more about child and family development resources, we recommend you visit the resource page of the Illinois Early Intervention Training website.

Our team

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Make a referral or schedule an appointment

If you suspect your child is lagging behind in their development, early intervention services may be appropriate to help address your child’s needs.

Appointment availability

Wednesday and Thursday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Limited home visits available

We accept most medical insurance plans

Call our intake coordinator at: