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 whole.
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.