What is Early Intervention?
Early Intervention (EI) is a federally and state mandated program that provides special education and therapy services to children from ages birth to three who are found to have a disability. Services are of no direct cost to families and are provided through a variety of public and private agencies, as well as individual professionals who contract directly with the county. Services include therapies (speech and language, physical, occupational, audiological), special education instruction, teachers of the hearing impaired, respite, family training, counseling and others based upon child and family needs.
The Early Intervention Program (EIP) is a public program for infants and toddlers with special needs. Children with diagnosed conditions that lead to developmental delays (such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, etc.) are eligible for EIP. Children with no diagnosis who have delays in development may also be eligible for the EIP if their delays meet eligibility criteria.
For more information on the Early Intervention process, see below. If your child is found eligible for services by professionals approved to perform this evaluation, you, the county staff and other team members will make a plan to help your child and your family.
Early Intervention services that are planned and authorized by the county are provided at no cost to you. The county will arrange for services to be provided and will choose the provider based on the needs of your child and family. Your child’s health insurance may be used to cover some of the costs, however this will not affect your premiums or deductibles. All other costs for EIP services are paid for by your county and New York State.
Early Intervention services are provided where it’s best for the child; in places such as your home, daycare or other community settings. The EIP covers the cost of Early Intervention services only. The EIP does not pay for daycare or other fees charged by community settings.
County Contacts for the Early Intervention Program
If you have concerns about your child’s development, you can call your respective county’s Early Intervention Program to refer your child. Please contact us if you require additional contact information for your county. Someone else can help you make the referral to the EIP if you wish.
The Early Intervention Process
The following is a brief description of the Early Intervention Process, from identification until the child turns three:
- A referral is made by contacting your County Heath Department. A doctor, social worker, parent, relative or any individual may make the referral.
- A service coordinator visits the family to explain the Early Intervention process (Intake), obtains demographic information and completes necessary paperwork.
- A core evaluation is scheduled. The family is offered a choice of agencies to perform the evaluation based on the family need for a specific day and/or time. The evaluation may take place in the home or at the agency, depending upon the family’s wishes. An evaluation team, consisting of a generalist (typically a special education teacher) and a specialist in the area of suspected disability (i.e. speech therapist, physical therapist) completes the core evaluation. This usually takes one to two hours. If necessary, other team members may be asked to complete supplemental evaluations based upon the findings of the core evaluation.
- If the child qualifies for Early Intervention, an IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) meeting is scheduled or may take place directly after the evaluation. Regardless, it should take place no more than 45 days after the original referral. At this meeting, the family, service coordinator and at least one of the evaluators establish outcomes for the child and discuss ways that the family can be as involved as possible in their child’s services. Frequency of service is also determined at this meeting.
- A teacher and/or therapist (dependent upon what was approved) contacts the family to set up a schedule of visits. Visits may take place in the home or at a location identified by the family. The family and providers work out a compatible schedule.
- At least every six months, the child’s progress is reviewed. The family receives a written progress report and an IFSP meeting is held to review the service plan. Changes or updates to the IFSP may be made at any time during the six-month period.
- When a child approaches 24 months of age, if the child qualifies, the parents may opt to have him/her attend a center-based program. The child would then receive the majority of his/her services in the program rather than at home, although some of the home-based components may continue. This is decided on a case-by-case basis.
- Before the child turns three the school district in which he/she resides must determine eligibility for preschool services. A transition process takes place in which the child is given a complete developmental evaluation. A CPSE (Committee on Preschool Special Education) meeting is held, attended by the school district’s CPSE chairperson, an evaluation team representative, the family, the child’s therapist(s), a parent advocate, a county member and the service coordinator.
- Once a child transitions from the Early Intervention Program, he/she receives services under the Preschool Program. If a child is identified after the age of three or moves into the county after s/he is three, the referral should be made directly to the school district.
Early Intervention Resource Quicklinks
Questions about Early Intervention?