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 little one does, in fact, have a delay in development or a disability. Eligible children can receive early intervention services from birth through the third birthday (and sometimes beyond).
For some children, from birth| Sometimes it is known from the moment a child is born that early intervention services will be essential in helping the child grow and develop. Often this is so for 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. Even before heading home from the hospital, this child’s parents may be given a ***referral ***to their local early intervention office.
For others, because of delays in development| Some children have a relatively routine entry into the world, but may develop more slowly than others, experience set backs, or develop in ways that seem very different from other children. For these children, a visit with a developmental pediatrician and a thorough evaluation may lead to an early intervention referral.
Parents don’t have to wait for a referral to early intervention, however. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, you may contact your local program directly and ask to have your child evaluated. That evaluation is provided free of charge. If you’re not sure how to locate the early intervention program in your community—keep reading. We give that information a bit further down the page.
However a child comes to be referred, evaluated, and determined eligible, early intervention services provide vital support so that children with developmental needs can thrive and grow.