Early intervention services are specially designed to address the educational and developmental needs of very young children with disabilities and those who are experiencing developmental delays.
Early intervention provides free developmental evaluations of children younger than 3 (that is to say, before their third birthday) and helps families find services for their little one. These services are available through the same law that makes special education services available—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Finding Early Intervention in Your Area
If you think your baby or toddler needs special help, you should get in touch with the early intervention system in your area. Here are suggestions for how to do that.
Get in touch with the State system
The State is responsible for providing early intervention programs for infants and toddlers. The agency in charge is called the lead agency. Services for children are provided at the local level, under State supervision. Find out the lead agency for your State at the ECTA Center: http://ectacenter.org/contact/ptccoord.asp
Ask to be referred to your local area
Call the State agency you identified above. Explain that you want to find out about early intervention services for your child. Ask for the name of the office, a contact person, and the phone number in your area where you can find out more about the program and have your child screened for a disability or delay.
Visit the State’s and/or local agency’s website
Most States make websites available where you can find guidance for parents new to the early intervention system, as well as descriptions of policies. You can identify the website address at the ECTA Center, when you are finding out who the lead agency in your State is. The same types of information may also be available on the website of the local-level program, so be sure to ask at the local level if they have a website you can visit.
Keep track of info
Write down the names, phone numbers, and emails you’re given (and, as you continue, everyone you talk to). You can use the Parent’s Record-Keeping Worksheet. Having this information available will be helpful to you later on.
Other Ways of Finding Early Intervention in Your Area
Here are a few alternative ways in which you can identify the early intervention program in your community.
- Ask your child’s pediatrician to put you in touch with the early intervention system in your community or region;
- Contact the Pediatrics branch in a local hospital and ask where you should call to find out about early intervention services in your area; or
- Contact the Parent Training and Information (PTI) center and community parent resource centers (CPRC) for your state.
Other related pages:
- Overview of Early Intervention
- Parent Participation in Early Intervention
- Parent notification and consent
- Writing the IFSP for your child
- Providing Early Intervention Services in Natural Environments
- Transition to Preschool
- Public Awareness / Referral System
- Who’s Who in Early Intervention
- Effective Practices in Early Intervention
- Key Terms to Know in Early Intervention