According to NECTAC (The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center), over 300,000 children received services in 2008 for developmental concerns.

But in spite of efforts by states to inform families of the services provided to infants and toddlers, many families are still unaware of the resources available to serve children with developmental delays, and their basic rights within the program.

Parents who are concerned about their child’s development need to know that every state has federal funding for the Early Intervention Program which provides for evaluation and therapy for children in need of services.

Overview

Early Intervention Program (sometimes referred to as Birth-Three) is Part C of the IDEA (Individuals With Disabilities Act). It is regulated by federal law.

Areas in which children are evaluated, sometimes referred to as developmental domains include: cognitive, speech/language (receptive and expressive), fine (small) motor skills, gross (large) motor skills, self-help skills, social/emotional development.

A Family Service Coordinator is assigned to the family and is responsible for helping the family obtain on evaluation, and coordinate appropriate services if the team (coordinator, evaluating teachers/therapists, parents) decides services are needed.

What Families May Not Know

1. There is no charge for early intervention services provided by the state. If it determined that a child needs services, families have the option of choosing a private provider. Some providers contract with state agencies to provide services. In other cases, choosing a private therapist or teacher may mean paying out-of-pocket.

2. Early Intervention does not involve ‘labeling’ children under specific categories of delay. Although teachers and/or therapists may be concentrating on a particular area of development, children are under a broad category of developmental delay. A service provider’s responsibility is to start working with a child at her particular level of need and assist the family in doing the same.

3. Children have a right to receive services in their natural environment: where the child would normally be if he or she were not receiving services. This includes the day care setting, community programs, and homes. Some providers are best able to serve the needs of children in centers with a wide variety of resources, but this must be approved and agreed upon by the parent.

4. Many parents have had their children evaluated by a private therapy professional, and subsequently paid expenses for education and treatment, or maxed out insurance benefits without being referred to the early intervention program. Therapists conducting evaluations of children in this age category should be informing parents of the birth-three services so families can make an informed decision about a provider for their child, and have the opportunity to have services provided at no cost.

Resources For Parents And Families

More information on Early Intervention/Part C services can be found at the website for NECTAC, The National Early childhood Technical Assistance Center.

Early intervention service agencies & contacts for every state can be found on on NECTAC’s website.

Department of Education Website: Part C Services for Infants and Toddlers