Early intervention is a system of coordinated services that promotes the child's growth and development and supports families
during the critical early years. Early intervention services to eligible children and families are federally mandated through the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Starting with a partnership between parents and professionals at this early stage helps the child, family and community as a
Early intervention services delivered within the context of the family can:
• Improve both developmental and educational gains;
• Reduce the future costs of special education, rehabilitation and health care needs;
• Reduce feelings of isolation, stress and frustration that families may experience; and
• Help children with disabilities grow up to become productive, independent individuals.
The earlier children with or at risk of disabilities receive assistance and the sooner their families receive support towards their
children's development, the farther they will go in life.
Early Intervention Steps
1. Referral – (unless parent objects)
- Referral source or parent suspects child of having developmental delay or disability.
- Family informed of benefits of Early Intervention Program
- Child referred to EIO ( Early Intervention Official) within 2 days of identification
- Early intervention Official assigns Initial Service Coordinator
2. Initial Service Coordinator
- Provide information about EIP (Early Intervention Program)
- Inform family of rights
- Review list of evaluators
- Obtain insurance/Medicaid information
- Obtain other relevant information
3. Evaluation – (with parents’ consent)
- Determine eligibility
- Family assessment, optional
- Gather information for IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan)
- Summary and report submitted prior to IFSP
4. The IFSP Meeting – (if child is eligible)
- Family identifies desired outcomes
- Early Intervention services specified
- Develop written plan
- Family and EIO agree to IFSP
5. Early Intervention Services:
• Assisting technology devices and services - equipment and services that are used to improve or maintain the abilities of a
child to participate in such activities as playing, communication, eating or moving.
• Audiology - identifying and providing services for children with hearing loss and prevention of hearing loss.
• Family training - services provided by qualified personnel to assist the family in understanding the special needs of the
child and in promoting the child’s development.
• Medical services - only for diagnostic or evaluation purposes.
• Nursing services - assessment of health status of the child for the purpose of providing nursing care, and provision of
nursing care to prevent health problems, restore and improve functioning, and promote optimal health and development. This
may include administering medications, treatments, and other procedures prescribed by licensed physician.
• Nutrition services - services that help address the nutritional needs of children that include identifying feeding skills,
feeding problems, food habits, and food preferences.
• Occupational therapy - services that relate to self-help skills, adaptive behavior and play, and sensory, motor, and
• Physical therapy - services to prevent or lessen movement’s difficulties and related functional problems.
• Psychological services - administering and interpreting psychological tests and information about a child’s behavior and
child and family conditions related to learning, mental health and development as well as planning services including
counseling, consultation, parent training, and education programs.
• Service coordination - someone who works in partnership with the family by providing assistance and services that help
the family to coordinate and obtain their rights under the Early Intervention Program and services agreed upon in the IFSP.
• Social work services - preparing an assessment of the social and emotional strengths and needs of a child and family,
and providing individual or group services such as counseling or family training.
• Special instruction - includes designing learning environments and activities that promote the child’s development,
providing families with information, skills, and support to enhance the child’s development.
• Speech-language pathology - services for children with delay in communication skills or with motor skills such as
weakness of muscles around the mouth or swallowing.
• Vision services - identification of children with visual disorders or delays and providing services and training to those
• Health services - health-related services necessary to enable a child to benefit from other early intervention services.
• Transportation and related costs - providing or reimbursing the cost of travel necessary to enable a child and family to
receive early intervention services.
6. Review Six Months/Evaluate Annually
- Decision is made to continue, add, modify or delete outcomes, strategies, and/or services
- If parent requests, may review sooner
- Plan for transition included in IFSP
- Transition to: other early childhood services
Service Model Options: ways that early intervention services may be provided to a child and family.
1. Home-and community-based visits - In this model, services are given to a child and/or parent or other family
member or caregiver at home or in the community (such as a relative’s home, child care center, family day care home, play
groups, library story hour, or other places parents go with their children).
2. Facility or center-based visits - In this model services are given to a child and/or parent or other family member or
caregiver where the service provide works (such as an office, a hospital, a clinic, or early intervention center).
3. Parent-Child groups - In this model, parents and children get services together in a group led by a service provider. A
parent-child group can happen anywhere in the community.
4. Family support groups - In this model, parents, grandparents, siblings, or other relatives of the child get together in a
group led by a service provider for help and support and to share concerns and information.
5. Group developmental intervention - In this model, children receive services in a group setting led by a service
provider or providers without parents or caregivers. A group means two or more children who are eligible for early
intervention services. The group can include children without disabilities and can happen anywhere in the community.
Who is eligible for the Early Intervention Program?
Children are eligible for the Early Intervention Program if they are under three years old and have a disability or developmental
delay. A disability means that a child has a diagnosed physical or mental condition that often leads to problems in development
(such as Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, vision impairment, hearing impairment).
A developmental delay means that a child is behind in at least one area of development.
How is eligibility decided?
All children referred to the Early Intervention Official have the right to a free multidisciplinary evaluation to find out if they are
eligible for services. The multidisciplinary evaluation will also help you to better understand your child’s strengths and needs
and how early intervention can help.
A child who is referred because of a diagnosed condition that often leads to developmental delay like Down syndrome – will
always be eligible for early intervention services. If your child has a diagnosed condition, your child will still need a
multidisciplinary evaluation to help plan for services.
If your child has a delay in development- and no diagnosed condition – the multidisciplinary evaluation is needed to find out if
your child is eligible for the Early Intervention Program. Your child’s development will be measured according to the
“definition of developmental delay” set by your state.
Areas of Development / Functional areas.
1. Cognitive- a term that describes the process used for remembering, reasoning, understanding, and making decisions.
Learning and thinking.
2. Physical (including vision and hearing)- helps prevent or lessen movement difficulties and related functional problems.
Growth, gross and fine motor abilities.
3. Speech-language- children with delays in communication skills or with motor skills such as weakness of muscles
around the mouth or swallowing. Understanding and using words.
4. Social/emotional- an assessment of the social and emotional strengths and needs of a child and family. Relating to
5. Adaptive development- self help skills the child uses for daily living (such as feeding, toileting, dressing). Self-readiness
Your child does not need to be a U.S. Citizen to be eligible for services. And, there is no income “test” for the program. You
and your child do have to be residents of the State participating in the Early Intervention Program.
New York State’s definition of developmental delay.
Developmental delay means that a child has not attained developmental milestones expected for the child’s age adjusted for
prematurely in one or more of the following areas of development: cognitive, physical (including vision and hearing),
communication, social-emotional, or adaptive development.
For the purposes of the Early Intervention Program, a developmental delay is a delay that has been measured by qualified
personnel using informed clinical opinion, appropriate diagnostic procedures, and/or instruments, and documented as:
1. A 12 month delay in one functional area
2. A 33% delay in one functional area or a 25% delay in each of two areas
3. If appropriate, standardized instruments are individually administered in the evaluation.
Babies Can't Wait!
Because all babies are different, they rarely do the same thing at exactly the same age. As a result, it's not unusual for families
to have questions or concerns about their child's development. You may wonder;
Why isn't my son sitting up?
Why isn't my daughter crawling?
Why doesn't my son talk like other children his age?
It's important to keep in mind that all children develop differently and at their own pace. If you have concerns about your
child's development, call your health provider or local early intervention program.
Taking the First Step
If you are concerned about your child's development, the first step is to have your child referred for evaluation and
assessment. You can refer your child directly to an Early Intervention program or you can have your child's physician or
another professional make the referral for you. You will be assigned a service coordinator who will help you through the
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