Gerrie's Gazette October 2021

Inside this Issue:

  • New AzEIP Email Address!
  • AzEIP Employee Spotlight: Annie Converse
  • Family Story: Cristina Renteria and Her Son, Atlas
  • ICC Subcommittees Need You!
  • AzEIP Annual Stakeholder's Meeting
  • Attention: Caregivers of Children with Rare and/or Serious Illnesses
  • Events & Resources

New AZEIP Email Address!

Be sure to use the new email address to contact AzEIP:



Annie Converse

Annie Converse is the AzEIP Data Manager. She has been with the Department of Economic Security (DES) for over 10 years. Annie spent time with DES in the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) as a Support Coordinator and Support Coordination Supervisor. Annie shifted over to the AzEIP state office six years ago as a Continuous Quality Improvement Coordinator before becoming the Data Manager.

Annie attended Arizona State University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. Prior to arriving at DES, Annie provided behavioral health case management for both children and adults before focusing on children and their families.

It’s been 10 years since Annie’s daughter graduated from the AzEIP program! After a stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and a plethora of specialists and doctor’s visits, she is thriving. Now her daughter is a typical, spunky teenager challenging Annie each and everyday.

Annie enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, biking, and supporting girls and leaders as a Girl Scout alumna and lifetime member. This summer, Annie welcomed a new family member, a little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Kicks who now joins the family along with their guinea pigs, Picacho Peak and Schnebly Hill.

Family Story:

Cristina Renteria and Her Son, Atlas

AZIEP gave us a hope for a quality of life.

"We were so fortunate to be referred to AzEIP while in the NICU. I truly believe their consistent presence has changed the trajectory of our life, in the best way possible.

"About a month after we came home, we had our first meeting with Arizona Early Intervention (AzEIP). I had no idea what to expect or what it even was, really. I honestly don’t remember much of the first meeting, except that it was the first time I was asked about my goals for my son and our family. I was timid to even give a response because a hospital provider had wrote in my son’s chart that he would have “no quality of life” and had a very short life expectancy . After reading this, I had no idea how to look ahead. Thankfully, our AzEIP team was realistic and hopeful, and allowed me to grow these same mindsets.

"Not only did we develop goals, I was provided with the tools and confidence to work towards them. Atlas was so tiny, with so many tubes and wires, I always handled him extremely gently. I joke that PT was harder for me than for him. I was afraid to hurt him. I still remember when our DSI looked at me and said, 'you’re not going to break your baby.' We laughed because it sounded so funny, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. I learned so many new positions and stretches that continue to help Atlas everyday. I constantly hear how it’s hard to believe he once had severe torticolis or how great his tone and range of motion is for a child with quad CP.

"One great thing about working with each of our AzEIP providers was seeing how they each interacted with Atlas. They always assumed competence. This is how we learned that Atlas truly does understand! His receptive language and comprehension skills are far more advanced than his MRI would have you believe he would be capable of. We are now working with a communication device to help Atlas further progress with his communication skills.

"His AzEIP team provide a perfect balance of kindness and appropriate challenge for Atlas. This allowed him to meet milestones we were told by medical professionals would be impossible. Their level of dedication, professionalism, knowledge, and compassion provided an example of what I can expect and advocate for in other areas of my child’s needs.

"Through AzEIP, I gained so much knowledge and experience that transformed into confidence. I gained skills that helped me better care and advocate for my son and myself. I have been able to rejoin the work force and confidently train others that help care for my child. Atlas’s medical needs are extensive and I am fully aware of our reality and the challenges we face and will continue to face. However, the quality of his life is not measured on these things; it is determined by the amount of love, support, and joy Atlas has and brings into this world. I am so grateful for the role AZEIP has played in ensuring Atlas has the best quality of life he can.

"Excitingly, Atlas’s medical providers no longer think his condition is degenerative and his life expectancy has increased drastically. He’s going to be starting preschool this fall."

ICC Meeting

Friday, November 19, 2021, 11:30am to 2:00pm

Join with Google Meet: meet.google.com/sto-ecby-oxm

Join by phone: (US) +1 520-365-4396 (PIN: 334382243)

ICC Subcommittees Need You!

A Message from Edd Schommer:

We would love to see more families and community partners on our Interagency Coordinating Council Subcommittees so they can have their voices heard and make a difference to children at an early age. It is a simple process. Just fill out an application to identify which subcommittee you would like to join, attach your resume, then send it to Edd Schommer at LSchommer@azdes.gov. Subcommittee members are encouraged to attend the ICC quarterly meetings, but attending the subcommittee meeting is the focus.

There are 4 different subcommittees:

  1. Development: The purpose of this committee is to review ICC composition, recruit potential members, and make recommendations to fill vacancies to assure compliance with IDEA and ICC ability to effectively perform its duties.
  2. Fiscal: The purpose of this committee is to engage providers to collaborate on building awareness of funding needs for AzEIP.
  3. Family Engagement: This committee helps to ensure AzEIP families have the tools to share concerns and improvements.
  4. Transition: To ensure that core team members are supported with quality resources surrounding the transition process.

Please bring your voices to the table!

-- Edd Schommer

Regional Cohort Meetings

AzEIP and the Arizona Department of Education

August 23 through 27, 2021

The Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) cohosted daily, interactive, regional cohort meetings with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). The focus of the cohort meetings was to support smooth transitions from AzEIP (Part C) to Arizona Public Education Agencies (Part B). AzEIP service coordinators and preschool representatives statewide were in attendance.

ADE and AzEIP representatives shared requirements and expectations for a smooth preschool transition process, and attendees had the opportunity to discuss their local transition successes and challenges during breakout sessions.

The highlight of each day’s cohort meeting was a shared presentation by an AzEIP service coordinator and a preschool representative on their tips to ensuring smooth transitions. Many thanks to these informative presenters:

● Central: Melany Taylor (AzEIP/DDD SC), Samara Way and Lisa Hawes (Mesa Unified District)

● Eastern: Leslie Croyle (AzEIP/DDD SC) and Gretchen Scheurich (JO Combs Unified School District)

● Northern: Shavannah Reynoso (AzEIP/DDD SC), Amie McCrickard (Winslow Unified District), Barb McMasters (Northland Therapy SC), and Domenique Garcia (Show Low Unified District) [Domenique was unable to attend, so Barb shared on behalf of them both]

● Southern: Jennifer Holliday (AzEIP/DDD SC), Amy Wilson and Blanca Coronado (Tucson Unified School District)

● Western: Mary Stuart (A to Z Therapies SC) and Julie Byer (Kingman Unified School District)


An Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) machine is used to find out how well the inner ear, or cochlea, works. It measures otoacoustic emissions, or OAEs. These are sounds given off by the inner ear when responding to a sound. The hair cells in the inner ear respond to sound by vibrating. AzEIP uses the machines to determine if children need further testing or therapies.

Hey, Contracted Providers:

Have you picked up your Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) machine? Please reach out to Debbie Daniels at 602-542-0260 and schedule a time for pick up at 1789 W. Jefferson, Phoenix.

Attention: Caregivers of Children With Rare and/or Serious Illnesses

The Circle of Care Guidebook helps Caregivers navigate the varied experiences and challenges of rare and serious medical conditions. Learn from the insights, achievements, and experiences of other caregivers and experts.

The extensive array of topics covered in this Guidebook (nearly 100) underscores the many aspects of life and care that are impacted when caring for a child with a rare disease.

For more information, please visit the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) website or email NAC at info@caregiving.org

Resources & Events

The Maricopa County SHIFT program is open, receiving referrals and provides free training to anyone working with pregnant and/or postpartum women affected by substance use disorder.

SHIFT, in conjuction with the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in North Carolina are producing a three-part video series on collaborative practices for pregnant women with a substance use disorder. Part one of the series (System-wide best practices for supporting expectant women with a substance use disorder) aired live on September 30. Two additional 90-minute on-demand trainings will be available soon:

  • Perinatal Substance Use Disorders 101: Exploring Evidence-Based Recommendations for Care
  • Perinatal Substance Use Disorders 202: Expanding Skills and Knowledge to Care for the Mother-Baby Dyad

Pre-registration is not required and there is no cost to attend.

If you or your staff have questions about making referrals, call (602-526-6116) or email Clay Jones at Clay.Jones@maricopa.gov


The Birth to Five Helpline (877-705-KIDS) is a free program provided by Southwest Human Development, and is a signature program of First Things First. Open to all Arizona families, the Birth to Five Helpline allows parents, caregivers and professionals to call, text or email our Helpline early childhood specialists for support around a variety of issues such as feeding, potty training, early literacy, developmental milestones, difficult behaviors, general parenting advice and more! Not only do callers get to talk directly with an early childhood expert, the Helpline also serves as a gateway for early childhood programs and services throughout our community.

Register for the virtual Mini-Conference here!

Register Now for the Autism & I/DD Conference!

Learn more about UpLearning Virtual Training Series and register!

Register Today! Registrese hoy misno!


Caring Connections for Special Needs (CCSN) is a family-run organization that provides behavioral health services to children. With six locations in Arizona, CCSN is dedicated to helping to improve the lives of children and families. CCSN staff understand the challenges families and children with special needs face every day. All AHCCCS plans are accepted for on-site or in-home care with individual and group support to children up to the age of 18. CCSN mentors are flexible and adaptable to a family’s needs and schedules.

Mentors provide an array of services from individual and group support, respite care, a Summer/Winter Program, a During and/or After School Program, Family Support Services, a Summer Program. as well as a new early learning program called The Littles. This program is specifically created for kids aged 2-5 to successfully transition into preschool or kindergarten. The Littles is a great way for kids to learn the routines they will use in the classroom and help them get a head start on learning. Telehealth options, where appropriate, are available, as well as in-home services. CCSN can take current assessments or have its own CCSN staff schedule a time to do an assessment if a child needs one.

For more information, please visit www.ccsneeds.com

How to Respond to Running Away and Avoidant Behaviors

Free Webinar for Parents, Caregivers, & Providers

On-Demand - Ready When You Are!

Does your child run away when presented with an unpleasant task or walk away from you when in the community?

Come join your Kyo-Greater Phoenix Area Regional Director, Amanda Cowan, as she reviews ways to use function-based strategies to decrease rates of elopement and teach your child ways to “escape” in more positive, safe ways.

Register to watch this recording on-demand


AzEIP Materials Available Online

You can find a library of AzEIP materials on the DES Document Center. Be sure to select the "Flyers + Pamphlets" tab. Next, "Filter by Category" by clicking on the drop-down menu to select "AZ Intervention Program." Then, click on "Search" for a complete list of AzEIP materials.

Below is a list of a few of the AzEIP Spanish language materials that are available on the DES Document Center:

  • Programa de Intervención Temprana de Arizona - GCI-1007A PAMS
  • Programa de Intervención Programa de Intervención Programa de Intervención - GCI-1070A PAMS
  • Programa de Intervención de los Resultados de los Niños y las Familias - GCI-1102A-FLYPDS
  • Proveedores del Cuidado de Niños: ¿Sabe usted lo qué se debe esperar cuando también están inscritos en AzEIP los niños bajo su cuidado? - GCI-1106A PAMPDS
  • Consejode Coordinación Interinstitucional para Bebés y Niños Pequeños - GCI-1081 APAMNA

For more information on AzEIP services and supports, please email:



Created By
AzEIP Officer