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Early Intervention

Children at risk of a developmental delay or disorder are routinely referred to Early Intervention by their physicians. If a child qualifies, he or she may receive a range of services at no (or low) cost to the family. Early Intervention is designed to improve outcomes for children with disabilities by providing early, appropriate, and intensive interventions.

In 1986, the U.S. Congress created the mandate for a range of services to be provided to infants and toddlers with disabilities, through what is referred to as “Early Intervention.”

In Public Law 105-17, the provision of special services for the youngest members of our society was established. This was due to “an urgent and substantial need” both to “enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities and to minimize their potential for developmental delay.”

Today, each state is provided grants from the federal government to provide comprehensive services to infants and toddlers with disabilities. A lead agency in each state administers the statewide program. Each state establishes criteria for eligibility within parameters set by the federal government, and as outlined in public law.

“Early Intervention,” according to the law that created it, is: “a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.” In simpler terms, it is a range of services designed to intervene at the early stages of an infant or toddler’s disability. Early intervention is designed to serve children with disabilities under the age of three, and the families who care for them.

Infants or toddlers with disabilities in one or more of the following areas of development may qualify for Early Intervention: physical, cognitive, adaptive, communicative, or social and/or emotional development.

A network of professionals offer services including: screening and assessment; family training, counseling, and home visits; speech therapy; occupational therapy; psychological services; audiology services; vision services; social work services; and transportation. These are provided, with some exceptions, at no cost to the family.

Early Intervention Resources:

For information about Early Intervention in your state, please visit the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s State Part C Coordinator Contact Listing.

For a copy of the Parent Guide for EI (PDF), visit the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY).

Resources in States Participating in the First Signs Program:

For Minnesota, please see A Pediatric Practitioner’s Guide to Early Childhood Intervention in Minnesota (PDF brochure version: outside panels, inside panels).

For New Jersey, please see A Physician’s Guide to Early Intervention in New Jersey.

For Pennsylvania, please see A Pediatric Practitioner's Guide to Early Intervention in Pennsylvania

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