Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell If my child is behind in development?
Childhood development includes many milestones, or behaviors and activities that children show in their early years. For example, most children will begin playing with others around at 4 months old, or say their name and age at 3 years old. By being aware of these milestones, parents can watch for delays in their child's development.
What happens during an EI evaluation?
During a multidisciplinary evaluation, your Service Coordinator will look at many areas of your child's development, including physical, communication, social, emotional, and adaptive areas. During the evaluation, the team might discuss strengths or concerns about your child's development. The team uses all the information they gather during the evaluation to determine whether your child is eligible for EI. If so, they will build a specialized plan best suited for your family and child.
How does the evaluation test for my child's eligibility?
An early intervention evaluation will test for eligibility based on the following criteria:
- Developmental delays to cognitive development such as physical, communicative, social, emotional, or adaptive delays far enough below average.
- Diagnosed physical or mental conditions with a high chance of resulting in a developmental delay, such as a physical or mental condition determined through the evaluation.
- Any informed clinical opinion that grants eligibility in cases where determining a child's developmental status is difficult. This may occur in cases where a child's developmental area is hard to compare with a standard.
How can I prepare for the evaluation?
During your evaluation, your Service Coordinator might start off by asking you a few questions about your child's development. You can request an evaluation at any point during this screening process. To prepare for an evaluation, be prepared to do the following:
- Inform the Service Coordinator if you need any special assistance such as an interpreter.
- Give any important information such as health appraisal, medical records, a baby book, growth chart, or any other evaluations or reports.
- Ask any questions or concerns you may have about your child's development.
- Explain which activities are challenging for your child and family to participate in at home, in the community, at child care, or any other activities you enjoy doing together.
- Share where you currently get your support. Is it from your extended family? Your community? A parent group?
What if my child is eligible for early intervention?
If your child is eligible for Early Intervention, your Service Coordinator will explain your Individualized Family Service Plan (or IFSP). Your IFSP lays out services and a schedule specifically tailored to you and your child, and includes your family's unique activities, values, and community participation. Early Intervention teams understand the importance of community support. Friends, teachers, churches, neighbors, and other sources of support in one's community can be strong and long-lasting, and are taken into account when developing the best plan for your child. Early Intervention services can be provided at home, in childcare, in conjunction with Early Head Start, or any combination of these that a family and team find works best for your child's development.
What changes should I be prepared for?
Once you and the EI team agree on an IFSP best suited for your child, Early Intervention services must start within 2 weeks (unless a later date is recommended). As you and your child adjust to your new early intervention plan, there may be many changes to you or your child's lifestyle to accommodate EI support. These changes could include transitioning hospital services to the home, shifting from infant/toddler services to preschool services, or switching from EI services to other early care/education settings such as Head Start or other child care programs. Families can navigate changes in services or support by being aware of the following:
- What is needed for my child?
- What is available? (services, support, opportunities, etc.)
- Who is involved?
- Where are they? (are services located in a convenient area, are they accessible, etc.)
- How will these changes occur?
- What will help my child adjust to these changes?
- How can my family and child find support through this change?
What do I do if I have to change my family's plan?
Changes can happen sudden and often in life, and navigating them can be complicated if your child needs specific and support for their development. In these cases, families can contact their service coordinator to plan an IFSP meeting. During this meeting, your service coordinator will help you discuss any adjustments to best suit their development in the case of any changes to your child's age, living situation, activities, health conditions, or otherwise. If you decide that an IFSP meeting is necessary, here are some things to think about before the meeting:
- Your child's unique qualities and strengths
- What you and your family want for your child now and in the future
- Questions you may have about your child or their behavior. All questions are important and acceptable to ask
- Activities that you and your child enjoy doing together. These activities may be included in your EI support, as they are important to your child's growth
- Special needs your child has such as equipment or support to aid mobility, feeding, self-help, or communication
- Any current difficulties that you would like solutions for such as problems with mobility or communication.
Who will have access to my child's information?
All child information and records are kept confidential, and is only accessible by persons authorized by federal and state confidentiality, privacy, and security laws. This means that information about your child cannot and will not be shared outside a program, except as permitted by law with parental consent. Only the staff who are directly involved with your child will have access to their information. State and county personnel will have limited access as well, only for the purpose of ensuring that your child's services are delivered correctly.
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