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
“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
Early Intervention Resources:
For information about Early Intervention in your state, please visit the National
Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s
Part C Coordinator Contact
For a copy of the
Guide for EI (PDF), visit the
National Information Center
for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY).
Resources in States Participating in the First Signs
For Minnesota, please see A Pediatric
Practitioner’s Guide to Early Childhood
Intervention in Minnesota (PDF brochure version:
For New Jersey, please see
Physician’s Guide to Early Intervention in New Jersey.
For Pennsylvania, please see
Practitioner's Guide to Early Intervention in Pennsylvania
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