Spring 2018

North Carolina Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children With Hearing Impairments

NC Department of Public Instruction

Office of Early Learning



Each child will be honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life.

Office of Early Learning Vision Statement

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To Make a Referral

Contact Mandy Hice, BS, ITFS
Social Worker II and Intake Coordinator



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Table of Contents

Cute Corner

Funding Options for Hearing Aids in North Carolina

Community of Practice

Staff Development and Save the Dates

Resources and Opportunities for Families

Where Are They Now

Director's Spotlight

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Cute Corner

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Funding Options for Hearing Aids in North Carolina

By Jenni Campagna

The NC Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (NC EHDI), NC Infant Toddler Program Assistive Technology Funding (AT Funding), and the W. Paul Biggers Carolina Children’s Communicative Disorders Program (CCCDP)

are sources of funding for hearing aids for children under the age of three in

North Carolina.

There are many ENT/audiology clinics in our state participating in these funding programs. It is important to note there are also many that do not. Families can be surprised by a very large bill for hearing aids, or the need to change providers during the diagnostic and treatment process if they want to take advantage of these programs.

NC Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Program


The state-funded Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program provides funding for the initial set of hearing aids for children ages 0 to 3 who are diagnosed with permanent hearing loss at no cost to the family.

One time coverage includes a dispensing fee (with an initial supply of batteries), the cost of hearing aids, and earmolds. EHDI funding reimburses using current Medicaid rates.

Children eligible for EHDI funding are younger than age 3 with a documented permanent hearing loss in one or both ears, do not have Medicaid, and may have private insurance without a hearing aid benefit. There are no income eligibility or citizenship requirements for inclusion in this program. (If insurance pays any amount, EHDI cannot cover the difference.)

The EHDI Initial Hearing Aid fund can provide coverage up to what Medicaid would pay only. It is the payer of last resort. This means that if an audiology practice chooses to participate in the EHDI Initial Hearing Aid program, they cannot bill the family the difference between Medicaid reimbursement rates and non-Medicaid rates for hearing aids and fitting. Although a clinic may be pre-approved for EHDI funding, it is not a guarantee of payment.

Further information about how to apply can be found at: www.ncnewbornhearing.org or you can contact Lizzie Guffey at 704-285-0642 or lizzie.guffey@dhhs.nc.gov

NC Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program: Assistive Technology Funding

A family must have no other source of payment for the total cost.

(Medicaid, Community Alternatives Program (CAP), and private insurance)

The Infant-Toddler Program (ITP) uses a sliding fee scale - families may be required to pay a percentage of the cost.

ITP pays a maximum of the Medicaid rate. The sliding fee scale (SFS) is applied to the Medicaid Rate. Families cannot be billed more than 5% of their monthly income. Families who submit financial documents to the CDSA are also assigned a “monthly cap” for services/equipment. Ex. FM system cost is $2500… Family monthly cap of $300… Family pays a total of $300 for the FM.

Limits: Up to 8 pairs of ear molds and 16 dispensing fees per year

Up to 6 packs of batteries per year

Up to one exact-replacement device and accessories per year per affected ear

Repair and replacement: If not covered by another funding source, ITP pays for repair/replacement of hearing aids, FM systems, and accessories. ITP follows Medicaid policy for rates, fees and frequency.

Timelines: Vendors (audiologists) and IFSP teams may plan, request and authorize for up to a year’s supply of accessories (ear molds & dispensing fees and batteries) at a time if that year will end before the child’s third birthday. (pro-rated thereafter)

IFSP teams are expected to consider and order needed assistive technology items prior to 2 years 9 months of age. The need for the equipment must be stated on the IFSP.


Brian Deese

919 707 5538 office


The Children’s Cochlear Implant Center at UNC

Must be North Carolina residents under 21 years of age.

Patients seeking hearing aid coverage should not qualify for existing state-funded health care programs (Medicaid, CSHS, EHDI, NCITP-AT Funding) which would cover the proposed device or service.

Consideration is then given to the following financial aspects of the family:

Gross income
Number of dependents
Number of children with communication disorders
Extenuating circumstances, such as additional medical expenses

The CCIC, after insurance has paid/will pay for:

-UNC-CH Hospitals' bills for hearing related charges

-Hearing aids; replaced every 5 years.

-Repairs to hearing aids not covered by insurance.

-Cochlear Implant evaluation to determine if child is a candidate for an implant.

-Implant devices, accessories, service, and hospital charges for implant candidates.

What is not covered:

-Hearing aid fitting fees

-High end digital hearing aids

-FM systems

-Hearing aid batteries

-Non-hearing related hospital bills

-Professional services outside of UNC

-Replacement of working equipment

Grant applications in English/Spanish are available on http://www.med.unc.edu/earandhearing/giving/cccdpgrant

After the patient has been approved and evaluated by the CCCDP staff (one appointment for hearing aid evaluation and medical tests), the local audiologist will order the necessary devices. For hearing aid patients, these devices are shipped directly to the referring audiologist for disbursement to the patient. The referring audiologist will follow the patient and provide continuity of care.


Velma Grose

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Community of Practice

Natural Learning Environments and Coaching

ELSSP-HI established a Community of Practice (CoP) for our staff who share a concern or passion for Natural Learning Environment Practices and Coaching. In the CoP we discuss our challenges, successes, questions and insights. We share information and provide peer support while developing the tools, framework, and professional skills that have become part of our best practice. Every 6 weeks we meet virtually in small groups to discuss selected topics on Routines Based Intervention, Natural Learning Environment Practices and Coaching. The large group meets in person in the fall and spring. Our CoP is a nonjudgmental and supportive place for our staff to learn and grow together. Our final small group meetings this year are 4/17,18,19. Our large group meets on 5/23 at the Hemphill Library in Greensboro.

Our CoP is led by Kristen Steele, Preston Collins, Mary Lou Wright and Cindy Boyd.

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Staff Development and Save the Dates

Early Learning Sensory Support Program Annual Opening Convocation

August 14-15, 2018

Raleigh NC

Holiday Inn Raleigh Crabtree

Monthly Staff Meeting Webinars

3:00-4:30 pm

May 9

June 13

Natural Learning Environments and Coaching

April 25-26

Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church

Durham, NC

Registration (free) will be required

for more information contact: Kandi Snyder, Durham CDSA

919-560-5600 or kandi.snyder@dhhs.nc.gov

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Resources and Opportunities for Families

Duke HEARS: Transitions

Saturday April 28


Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education

Duke University Medical Center Greenspace

Durham, NC 27710

Parking is free for the event

  • Meet a Panel of Experts who make up the hearing care team
  • Learn about the important transition from early intervention, including information about the Individualized Education Program (IEP), the 504 Accommodation Plan, and effectively advocating for your child.
  • Learn how to empower your child so they can advocate for their needs and become self-sufficient adults with hearing loss.


Nature Play Day

Saturday May 12 10 am-2pm

WNC Nature Center

75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28805

Family centered nature play day focusing on senses. Bubbles, chalk, sand tubs, puppets and more! Move at your own pace as you move around the grounds.

This event is open to all. Thanks to funding from the AZA's "Nature Play Begins" grant, admission is free for up to 100 children and family members from the visually and hearing impaired communities.

To receive this FREE admission, reserve your space by contacting Lauren Pyle at

828-259-8085 or lpyle@ashevillenc.gov

Spring Camp Cheerio

Roaring Gap, NC

May 18-20

The parent classes are not posted yet for 2018, but they are great opportunities to connect, no matter the subject. Scholarships are available for first time attendees.


National AG BELL Convention

"Pioneering Progress and Igniting Innovation"

June 28-30, 2018-Scottsdale, Arizona

Open to professionals and families. Children’s programming is offered one day of the convention. Check it out at: https://agbellconvention.com/

AG BELL membership is free to all families of children with hearing loss: https://www.agbell.org/Connect

Sunday Fun Day 2018

Sunday, August 26 10am-12pm

Discovery Place Kids Huntersville

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Where Are They Now?


Written by Summer, Olivia's mother

Olivia is 5 years old and started kindergarten this year. She is a fearless, courageous girl and is excelling at home and school. She is confident about her purple hearing aids with sparkly molds and will tell anyone she meets that she "loves her hearing aids"! Olivia is our only daughter (we have 3 boys with normal hearing) and was born with a bilateral sloping mild-to moderate/severe sensorineural hearing loss. She failed her newborn hearing screen at birth and, after several re-screens later and an ABR, we discovered her hearing loss. Learning about her hearing loss was crushing but due to support from others who have gone down this path I did not feel helpless. I was able to make plans right away to get her the resources she needed and I was determined that her hearing loss would not be a disability for her. She received her first pair of pink hearing aids at 3 months old and started Early Intervention. She loves telling the story of how excited Mommy and Daddy were and how she smiled and laughed when we turned her hearing aids on for the first time. We drove 3 hours to UNC multiple times a year for new ear molds and updated testing. We attended tele-sessions with an auditory verbal therapist weekly and also had a teacher of the deaf come to our house for weekly sessions. All the many hours I spent putting those hearing aids back in when she was a baby definitely paid off. Olivia is in an advanced K-1-2 class at our local public school. She is above grade level and is already reading like a champ. We do have a 504 in place so the school can use her FM system as needed and she can have preferential seating to hear instruction. She recently participated in the school talent show (the only kindergartner) by doing a hover board dance routine and came in 2nd place! She loves school, her friends and has a joy for life! I am thankful for technology and Early Intervention that helped equip us to not only handle Olivia's hearing loss but to set her up for success!

Kristin Milligan Alapisco, Olivia's teacher

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Director's Spotlight

Gil Medina

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I am Gilbert Medina and I have been a state employee since February 2009. I am a Spanish language interpreter in the Early Learning Sensory Support Program. I love working with people and giving my all to help others. In this job, I can do this every day with the families I work with. I look forward to each day with enthusiasm. Our job is quite rewarding and sobering. I value my co- workers. They have taught me much and we are very caring of one another. We are like a family and look out for one another. We go to home visits with the greatest desire to help those who need us and we do this unconditionally.

I grew up in New York City in a very active environment, full of excitement, love, and danger. It was quite the experience to have lived there. My father passed away when I was only 8 years old. That was a very sobering experience. My mother and her 4 children survived the city for some time. She took the time during my youth to teach me Spanish. Credit goes to her for my bilingual abilities. Later, my mother moved us to her native Puerto Rico. Growing up in Puerto Rico from the age of 11 was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The weather, the people, the scenery, the peacefulness were remarkable. Oh, the stories I could tell! We thrived there. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico in June 1991 with my future set on attending law school.

College was interrupted for three years while I served in the US Army. Serving in the Army changed my perspective of the world and disciplined me into being a better person with more character, honesty, and respect. The Army took me throughout the states and Germany. I finished my service working at the National Security Agency in Maryland. I moved to Massachusetts and worked as a middle school teacher in Lowell for ten years and loved every moment. It was there that I met my future spouse and we had two beautiful children. The bitter winters got the best of us and we moved to Tampa. I worked there as an educational trainer. Later, we moved to Charlotte. I fell in love with the city. I worked as a design consultant for a homebuilder until the 2008 recession hit. I lost my job there and began working as an interpreter for the Early Learning Sensory Support Program. I love what I do.

In my spare time I love to read, cook, play pool, travel, play poker, dance and go to the gym.

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Newsletter Committee

Jen Dunn

Chris Czajkowski

Donna Snipes


Jenni Campagna

Kristin Alapisco

Kristen Steele

Mary Lou Wright