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"Early Intervention: Nurturing Development, Changing Lives"

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Early Intervention (EI) services are a crucial component of comprehensive support for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities.

In the world of child development, Early Intervention stands as a powerful force, nurturing growth, and shaping lives. This transformative program recognizes the critical importance of early support for children facing developmental challenges. Through a range of specialized services, Early Intervention provides a nurturing environment where children can thrive, reach their full potential, and overcome obstacles that might otherwise hinder their progress. Join us as we explore the profound impact of Early Intervention on the developmental journey, celebrating the incredible resilience and strength it brings to children and their families.

children playing with shape sorter and drawing with colorful paper and crayons alongside teacher

Here's everything you need to know:

1. What is Early Intervention?: Early Intervention refers to a range of services and supports designed to address developmental delays in children from birth to three years of age.

2. What is the purpose Of Early Intervention?: The primary goal of EI is to identify and address developmental delays early on to minimize their impact on a child's growth and development.

little boy sitting on floor playin with wooden toys

3. What is the Evaluation and Assessment Process?: Early Intervention begins with a comprehensive evaluation and assessment process to identify any developmental delays or disabilities in the child.

4. What is the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): An IFSP is developed collaboratively with the child's family to outline the child's needs, goals, and the services they will receive. It is a living document that can be amended at any time during your service period, by having a meeting with your EIOD, providers, and signing off on the necessary paperwork.

couple going over document with another person and smiling

5. What Services Can be Provided?: EI services vary based on the child's needs but may include early childhood education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work services, and more.

6. Why a Play-Based Approach?: EI services often use a play-based approach to engage children in activities that promote their development and encourage interaction. This allows the children to be comfortable while learning in a more natural environment.

woman teacher and toddler girl sitting on carpet playing together

7. What About Family Involvement?: Early Intervention recognizes the importance of family involvement. Parents and caregivers are seen as partners in the child's development and are actively involved in the planning and implementation of services.

8. Who are the Service Providers?: Early Intervention services are delivered by a team of professionals, including educators, therapists, social workers, and other specialists, depending on the child's specific needs.

9. What is Transition Planning?: As the child approaches the age of three, transition planning takes place to ensure a smooth transition to preschool or other appropriate services.

young girl and teacher reading at a desk in school

10. How Can Families Begin Accessing Early Intervention Services?: Eligibility for EI services varies by country or region. Typically, referrals can be made through pediatricians, family doctors, childcare providers, or by contacting the local Early Intervention program.

Early Intervention services play a vital role in identifying and addressing developmental delays in young children. By intervening early, these services can support children's overall development, enhance their skills, and provide valuable support to their families.

baby boy sitting on floor playing with toy trains and smiling

Unlocking Potential: Early Intervention Services in New York

In New York, Early Intervention (EI) services are provided through the New York State Department of Health's Early Intervention Program (EIP). Here’s a link to more information about New York’s Early Intervention program:

Furthermore, here’s additional information specific to early intervention services in New York:

1. Eligibility: Children from birth to three years of age may be eligible for EI services in New York if they have a confirmed developmental delay or disability, or if they are at risk of developmental delays due to certain factors. Some of these factors include: physical, cognitive, communication, social-emotional, and/or adaptive. To see if your child qualifies, you must reach out to your local Early Intervention Program. Here is a link to the county offices:

2. Referral: Referrals for EI services can be made by anyone who has concerns about a child's development, including parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, or educators. Referrals can be made by contacting the local EIP office or through the Early Intervention Program's website. Here is the link to the EIP’s referral form:

handwritten chart of referral process with cute drawings

3. Evaluation and Assessment: Once a referral is made, a multidisciplinary team conducts a comprehensive evaluation and assessment of the child's development to determine eligibility for EI services.

4. Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): If the child is found eligible for services, an IFSP is developed in collaboration with the child's family. The IFSP outlines the child's needs, goals, and the specific services they will receive.

5. Service Coordination: A service coordinator is assigned to the family to help navigate the EI process, assist in accessing services, and coordinate the delivery of services. They serve as a point of contact for the family throughout the EI journey. Here is a link to current service coordinators:

6. Service Providers: Early Intervention services in New York can include a range of professionals, such as early childhood educators, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers, and others, depending on the child's needs. All service coordinators will be able to provide you a list of available providers in your area. Please note that there is currently a severe shortage of providers available in most areas, so there may be a delay in when your services begin, even if you qualify.

male healthcare worker sitting on table by lockers smiling while holding a face mask

7. Service Settings: EI services can be provided in a variety of settings, including the child's home, childcare settings, community-based centers, or other appropriate locations, based on the family's preferences and the child's needs. Most providers agree that services done in the child’s natural environment and/or familiar places, tend to be more successful.

8. Cost: EI services are available at no cost to families in New York. Funding is provided through a combination of federal, state, and local sources.

9. Transition Planning: As the child nears their third birthday, transition planning begins to ensure a smooth transition to preschool or other appropriate services. The EIP assists in this process, working with the family and connecting them to the next available resources. Here is a link to get more information on transition services:

For more detailed information on Early Intervention services in New York, it is recommended to visit the official website of the New York State Department of Health's Early Intervention Program or contact the local Early Intervention office in your area. Please click on the following link: or for further details.

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