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Podcast: The long wait for Early Intervention services in R.I.

On the Rhode Island Report podcast, the Globe’s Steph Machado brings us behind the reporting on a story, produced with Rhode Island PBS Weekly, on the waitlists for the Early Intervention program

Levi Ippolito, 2 1/2, runs near him home in Providence. Federal law requires an initial meeting take place within 45 days to determine if a child needs early intervention services. But it took more than nine months for Levi to get off the waitlist and be evaluated, forcing him to lose time for crucial interventions.Michael Frank/Rhode Island PBS
Rhode Island PBSRI PBS

PROVIDENCE — On the Rhode Island Report, Boston Globe reporter Steph Machado talks about the reaction to her story about the long waits that hundreds of Rhode Island infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities are facing as their families seek crucial Early Intervention services.

The report, produced in collaboration with Rhode Island PBS Weekly, tells the story of Levi Ippolito, a 2½-year-old boy diagnosed with global development delay, who had to wait nine months for an initial evaluation. Federal law requires an initial meeting within 45 days.

“This story got covered when the waitlist first became a problem during the pandemic, but a lot of people reached out to me and said they didn’t realize that it was still an ongoing crisis,” Machado said. “I also heard from a number of parents saying, ‘I experienced this, too. I had so much trouble getting my kid into Early Intervention, we had to wait so long.’ ”


On the podcast, Machado talks about the staffing shortages that are causing these delays. She reviews how many other states are meeting the federal requirements. And she takes a look ahead, detailing the actions that advocates say are needed to address the problem.

To get the latest episode each week, follow Rhode Island Report podcast on Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms, or listen in the player above.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.