Early Intervention is a state-wide program that offers services to families with infants and toddlers from birth to three years of age, who have, or are at risk for developmental delays, as a result of a specific diagnosis, or because of medical or environmental factors. Early Intervention services are focused on helping parents and other caregivers understand the needs of their child and teaching parents how to offer experiences to their child that will help him/her develop in all areas. Early Intervention providers are a wonderful resource for parents in a variety of areas including community resources and developmental information for parents. We support not only the eligible child, but the whole family.
Who is Eligible for Early Intervention?
Children may qualify for Early Intervention services based on established delay, established condition, or eligibility factors.
Established Developmental Delay
A child demonstrates a delay of 30% of his chronological age in one area of development when evaluated by the Early Intervention team. Children who qualify for services based on established developmental delay are eligible for 1 year of early intervention services. A re-evaluation is completed at the end of the eligibility period to determine continued eligibility for services. The following areas of development are evaluated by the Early Intervention team:
- Motor Development (gross and fine motor)
- Communication (expressive and receptive language)
- Social Emotional (interaction with adults and peers and emerging sense of self)
- Cognitive (memory, attention, early academic skills)
- Adaptive (self-care, personal responsibility)
Established Diagnosed Condition
A child receives a diagnosis from the primary care or other physician that automatically qualifies them for early intervention services. Children who qualify for services based on a diagnosed condition are eligible for either 1 year or 3 years of early intervention services depending upon the diagnosis. For 1 year eligibility diagnoses, a re-evaluation is completed at the end of the eligibility period to determine continued eligibility for services.
Any combination of 4 eligibility factors (medical or environmental) qualifies a child for early intervention services. Children who qualify for services based on eligibility factors are eligible for 1 year of early intervention services. A re-evaluation is completed at the end of the eligibility period to determine continued eligibility for services.
Medical Eligibility Factors Include:
- Gestational age (under 32 weeks)
- Time in NICU (6+ days)
- Birth Weight
- Lengthy or multiple hospitalizations
- Chronic feeding difficulties
- Inability to gain weight appropriately
- Lead levels
- Multiple traumas or losses experienced by the child
Environmental Eligibility Factors Include:
- Biological mother’s age at time of birth/number of children
- Biological mother’s years of formal education
- Parental Chronic Illness or Disability
- Family lacking social supports
- Lacking adequate food or clothing
- Open or confirmed protective service investigation (DCF)
- Substance misuse in the home
- Domestic violence in the home
Early Intervention Referral Process
Any person with concerns about a child’s development may refer a child to Early Intervention for a developmental evaluation. The most frequent referral sources are primary care physicians and parents, with referrals also originating from other community agencies and organizations such as the Department of Children and Families and early learning centers. Following the referral an initial assessment is scheduled with the parent. Services are provided in the family’s home, early education centers, or any other place where the child spends time.
Individualized Family Service Plan
When a child is eligible for Early Intervention services, and a family chooses to accept services the Early Intervention team collaborates with the family to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The plan for services identifies the areas of concern for the child and family, outcomes that will be addressed through involvement with the Early Intervention program, frequency and duration of services.
Home Visiting and Groups
Early Intervention services take place in the child’s natural environment (home, daycare, or other location where they would normally be) with the exception of group services which may take place at an early Intervention center or in another community location.
Early Intervention in Massachusetts is overseen by the Department of Public Health.
To learn more about Early Intervention services available in your area visit www.massfamilyties.org or call the Central Directory for Early Intervention at 1-800-905-8437 (1-800-905-TIES)
Referrals may be made by calling your local early intervention program.