Early Intervention (Birth to 5 years old)

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New to Early Intervention Portal

From Early Intervention Technical Assistance, this online learning portal provides information, resources and a broad range of training initiatives on early intervention (EI). If you’re new to EI we encourage you to browse the “New to EI” information. http://www.eita-pa.org/information-and-resources-for-families/

IDEA Part C (Ages 0-3) Early Intervention Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
Learn more: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/regs/c

IDEA Part B (Ages 3-5) Preschool Early Intervention
The Preschool section of IDEA 2004 (Part B, Section 619) applies to children ages 3 through 5 if they meet the definition of a child with a disability. Some children in this age group show a developmental delay but because of their young age, cannot yet be identified by category.

Key Terms

Developmental Delay
Early Intervention Services
Infant or Toddler with a Disability
Native Language
Natural Environment
Prior Written Notice (PWN)
Coordination Services

Download this handout: https://www.parentcenterhub.org/wp-content/uploads/repo_items/legacy/partc/handout2.pdf


Early intervention is intended for infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or disability. Eligibility is determined by evaluating the child (with parents’ consent) to see if the child does have a delay in development or a disability. Eligible children can receive early intervention services from birth through the third birthday (and sometimes beyond).

From Birth
Children who are diagnosed at birth with a specific condition or who experience significant prematurity, very low birth weight, illness, or surgery soon after being born.

Delays in Development
Children who may develop more slowly than others, experience set back, or develop in ways that seem very different from other children. There are five areas in which development may be affected:

  1. Cognitive development
  2. Physical development, including vision and hearing
  3. Communication development
  4. Social or emotional development
  5. Adaptive development

If you are concerned with your child’s development, you may contact your local early intervention program director and ask to have your child evaluated. The evaluation is free. If you’re unsure of how to locate the early intervention program in your community here are some ways:

  1. Contact a Parent Advisor at the PEAL Center
  2. Contact the Pediatrics branch in a local hospital and ask where you should call to find out about early intervention services in your area.
  3. Ask your pediatrician for a referral to the local early intervention system.
  4. Visit the ECTA Center’s early intervention “contacts” page, at:
  5. Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) Portal http://www.eita-pa.org/information-and-resources-for-families/

However, a child comes to be referred, evaluated, and determined eligible, Eearly intervention services provide vital support so that children with developmental needs can thrive and grow.

Evaluation & Assessment

Screening & Evaluation

A Service Coordinator, provided by your community’s early intervention program, will explain the early intervention process and guide you through next steps.

One of the first things that will happen is that your child will be evaluated by a professional to see if he or she has a developmental delay or disability. You must provide your written consent before screening and/or evaluation takes place.

Screening is a preliminary step in the evaluation process.

Evaluation starts with an evaluation group made up of qualified individuals who have a range of training and experience in speech and language, physical abilities, hearing and vision, and other important areas of development. Things to expect:

  1. Group members may evaluate your child together or individually
  2. Team will observe your child, ask your child to do things, talk to you and your child, and use other methods to gather information
  3. Share your own observations and/or concerns

The team will discuss with you if your child meets the criteria under IDEA and state policy for having a developmental delay, a diagnosed physical or mental condition, or being at risk for having a substantial delay, if so, your child is generally found to be eligible for services.

Once your child is found eligible for services then it’s time to write the Individualized Family Service Plan, or IFSP.

A Family’s Guide to Evaluation and Re-evaluation

This five-part series will help you understand federal and state special education laws, evaluation and reevaluation forms, and other important educational language in these reports. Included on these pages are downloadable PDFs of the annotated forms. Check out the series here, and let us know what you think! 

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

An IFSP is a very important document that your service team and you, the parent or guardian, develop that outlines the early intervention services that your child and family will receive. Parents/guardians are a major contributor to the IFSP development because the family is a child’s greatest resource.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) – with Annotations

Download this document for your IFSP and IEP meetings:

What’s Included in an IFSP?

  1. Your child’s present physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional, and adaptive development levels and needs
  2. Family information, including resources, priorities, and concerns, as parents, and other family members closely involved with the child
  3. Major results expected to be achieved for your child and family
  4. Specific services your child will receive*
  5. Where the services will be provided (e.g., home, community, school)
  6. The number of sessions or days your child will receive each service, and how long each session will last
  7. Who will pay for the services
  8. Name of service coordinator overseeing the implementation of the IFSP
  9. Steps to be taken to support your child’s transition out of early intervention and into another program when the time comes

*You must give written consent for each service to be provided.

What Happens Next?

With your written consent the IFSP is implemented. This means that the services described in the IFSP are provided to your child in the manner described in the IFSP. Two things to remember:

  1. You, as parents/guardians, have the right to decline any early intervention services without jeopardizing your child’s eligibility for other early intervention services. You may also revoke consent for one or more services at any time.
  2. You, as parents/guardians, are part of the review and revision process, which happens every six months and is updated at least one a year. Together, parents/guardians and the team, look at your child’s progress and decide how or if the IFSP needs to be changed.

Add a blurb here about transitioning from EI – School Age with link to PaTTAN publication about transitioning.  https://www.pattan.net/publications/the-transition-process-from-early-intervention-to