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What is Early Intervention?

Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


Let me start off by saying every State has an Early Intervention Program for children (Birth - 3 years old).   Refer back to the Directory for Early Intervention Programs for your state.   When you the Parent, have a concern about your baby or toddler's development, you can refer your child and have them evaluated to see if he or she qualifies for services.  Please Note: Each State has a different Eligibility Criteria, for example, the State of Wisconsin -Eligibility is based on a diagnosed disability or 25% delay in one or more areas of development. Or in the State of Missouri a child has to have either Newborn condition for a child referred prior to 12 months of age, or a diagnosed condition, for a child referred prior to 36 months of age,  some examples: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Chromosomal Trisomy, Craniofacial Anomalies, Disorders of the Nervous System, Sensory Impairments, Severe Attachment Disorders, Other Genetic/Congenital/Metabolic Conditions are just a few conditions.  Or a child would be developmental delay 50% or half-aged delayed in one or more of the following areas (% may be different for each State) ......cognitive, communication, adaptive, physical, or social-emotional developments.


Early Intervention Programs are to help families and their children get ready for school.  The goal is to provide suggestions and support to the families, by modeling different activities and tasks to help their child reach their goals.  Each child will learn at their own level. 


So once a parent, doctor, educator, or other referral source makes a referral on a child to the Early Intervention Program.  A Service Coordinator will make contact with the family to set up the first meeting, at this meeting the Service Coordinator will collect information about the family and child history, as well as family's concerns. Once the family gives consent, an evaluation will soon follow.  The evaluator will then contact the family to set up the evaluation.  After the evaluation is completed, the evaluator will write up the report and score it.  The Service Coordinator will also request medical records or a Health Summary from the child's Primary Physician or other Physicians if needed.


As soon as, the Service Coordinator gathers all the information needed in order to determine eligibility, the Service Coordinator will then make contact with the family to inform them whether or not their child qualifies for Early Intervention Services.  If the child does qualify for services, the Service Coordinator will set up an Initial IFSP Meeting,  Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) with the family and evaluators.  All of this will take place within 45 days of the referral date. The IFSP is reviewed every 6 months with the family.  The IFSP Meeting includes the child's present level of development, outcomes are designed for the child and family, how progress is measured, and services that will be provided.  (Which could be one of the following: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, Special Instruction, etc.)  Also at the IFSP Meeting, discussion of payment arrangements (depending on the State you live in) and discussion of transition during the time your child is in First Steps and when exiting First Steps at the age of 3 years old. 


After the Initial IFSP Meeting, a provider will be assigned to your family. Depending on how often your provider will make visits, the services are mostly provided in the child's natural environment which could be the home, daycare, family members home, and so on. 


As soon as your child approaches 2 and 1/2 years of age, a meeting will be held to prepare the child and family for transitioning out of the Early Intervention Program (Part C) when your child turns 3 years old.  If the family continues to have concerns with their child's development,  the family may want to consider the following options..... early childhood special education services through the local school district and/or other community programs such as Head Start, private preschool and/or private pay, or therapy covered by insurance. 




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