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Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention Services


Early Intervention Services refer to services provided by government agencies to infants and toddlers with disabilities. Specifically, the services target families with children 3 years old or younger who have demonstrated developmental delays or have the potential for them. This group includes children with known physical, emotional, or mental disabilities that will probably lead to delays in their development.

What is the information for this topic?

What are Early Intervention Services? In 1986 the US Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Public Law 102-119), also called IDEA. The purpose of this law was to help the individual states provide services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, and their families. Early assistance for these children can improve their development. Each state must have a system for delivering these Early Intervention Services.

Services can include the following:
  • family training, counseling, and home visits
  • special instruction
  • speech therapy and audiology
  • vision services
  • social work services
  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy
  • psychological services
  • diagnostic and evaluation medical services
  • assessment and evaluation services
  • nursing care
  • nutrition
  • transportation and related costs
  • assistive technology devices and services
  • health services needed to prepare and help the child to benefit from any of the services listed here

Who qualifies for Early Intervention Services? The children who qualify are those who are known to have delayed development. Also included are those who have a physical or mental condition that will probably result in developmental delay.

Developmental delay can be in one or more of the following areas:
  • learning
  • physical development, including visual impairments or hearing impairments
  • communication
  • social development
  • emotional development
  • adaptive development
The states are required to serve children who have these delays or who have a condition that will probably result in delay. They have the option of serving other children who are at risk of developmental delay.

What if a parent/primary caregiver has questions about their child's development? Usually the child's healthcare professional can answer any questions about child development. If a person has no regular source of health care, each state has a program to screen infants and toddlers for developmental disabilities. In some states the program is called Healthy Families, or maybe Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies.

What happens when a child is 3 years old?If a child is still considered developmentally delayed at 3 years of age, services are still available. They might be provided by a different state agency. In some states, a written transition plan is made for moving a child to the next agency. This plan is prepared by one of the professionals working with a parent/caregiver for a child's benefit.

The caregiver will be involved as this plan is prepared. The school district may also be involved in this transition plan. Some testing may be done to decide if a child is ready for preschool special education services.
What rights does a parent/caregiver have under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? They have the right to:
  • be the primary and final decision maker for the child
  • have services including a complete evaluation and assessment
  • a determination of their child's eligibility
  • early identification of problems
  • assistance through this process
If a child is eligible, a parent/caregiver also has the right to:
  • an individual plan for their child
  • a social worker or other coordinator to assist them
  • agree or disagree with the services offered and the time and number of services
  • refuse some services but still receive others
  • participate in all meetings concerning their child
  • receive timely notice of any changes of services, meeting dates, and people attending the meetings
  • receive any notices or documents in the language used in their home
A parent/primary caregiver may also:
  • review any written records
  • be informed about who else can see these records
  • challenge and correct any wrong information in the records
  • be aware of any individual complaint concerning their child
A parent/caregiver has the right to confidentiality regarding personal information about the child and family. They can ask, and have the right to know, how confidentiality is protected. They have the right to give written consent for any screening, evaluation, written plan, services, and sharing of information.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1991, Public Law 102-119, Part H Biennial Evaluation Report - FY 93-94, Rehabilitation Nursing Foundation, (1994). Application of Rehabilitation Concepts to Nursing Practice. Skokie, IL Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, (1998). Professional Rehabilitation Nursing. Glenview, IL Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. Washington State Department of Social&Health Services. Department of Developmental Services, State of California.

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