States that receive IDEA funds for Early Intervention (EI) must serve all infants and toddlers (birth to 3 years old) with developmental delays or established risk conditions. States may also serve infants and toddlers who are deemed to be at biological or environmental risk.
To qualify for early intervention, your child must have a developmental delay or specific health conditions such as genetic disorders, birth defects, and/or hearing loss. These health conditions do not include learning issues such as dyslexia or ADHD. A developmental delay is defined differently by each state. Please check the following website for NYS or other states’ definitions of developmental delays. This list was provided by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.
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Early Intervention Service Process
- Visit by the Initial Service Coordinator
- A multidisciplinary evaluation to look at the child’s functioning in five areas of development, including the area(s) of concern to determine eligibility
- An IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) meeting to develop a service plan
- Early Intervention services if the child is eligible
- Review after six months/evaluate annually
- Transition to Preschool Special Education (3–5) or to other early childhood services
- Early intervention services can be provided until the child’s third birthday.
Referral is the first step in any special education process. The evaluation process is free, and it is necessary to see if your child qualifies for services under early intervention. You or your child’s doctor can request the evaluation if you think your child may have a delay in development. If your child qualifies for early intervention, some common services he/she may receive are physical therapy, speech therapy, and/or occupational therapy. These services are provided either in your home, daycare or preschool.
What is Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)?
If the evaluation shows that your child qualifies for early intervention services, you will have a meeting to come up with an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP is a plan that addresses the needs of the child and family and is developed by a multidisciplinary team. Additionally, an IFSP defines the family as being the recipient of early intervention services. The IFSP must be evaluated once a year and reviewed at six-month intervals.