How to Participate
We can answer any concerns you have about your child's development. Contact the Early Intervention (EI) Service Coordination Office in the county where you live, and an EI Service Coordinator (SC) will contact you to schedule an intake appointment. The SC will explain and facilitate the EI process – including coordinating a Multidisciplinary Evaluation (MDE) and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) if your child meets eligibility requirements. You, the SC, and the evaluation team will develop IFSP outcomes, identify appropriate services, and determine frequency and duration of those services. Be sure to choose PathWays as your EI provider.
EI Supports and Services
Early Intervention in Pennsylvania consists of services and supports designed to help families with children who have developmental delays or disabilities. Early Intervention builds upon the natural learning that occurs in the important first years of a child's life.
Early Intervention offers individualized supports and services to the child and family at no cost. Services can include information about how children develop, parent or caregiver education, family supports, and developmental and instructional therapies in the home and community, along with linking families to a variety of community services and supports.
Is my child eligible for Early Intervention services? Here are the criteria.
Infants and toddlers (birth to age 3) who have:
A developmental delay in one or more of the areas of cognitive development: physical development, including vision and hearing, communication development, social or emotional development, and adaptive development, as documented by test performance of 1.5 standard deviations below the mean on accepted or recognized standard tests for infants and toddlers.
A diagnosed physical or mental condition which has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay, including a physical or mental condition identified through an MDE.
Received an informed clinical opinion to be used to establish eligibility, especially when there are no standardized measures or the standardized measures are not appropriate for a child’s chronological age or developmental area. Informed clinical opinion makes use of qualitative and quantitative information to assist in forming a determination regarding difficult-to-measure aspects of current developmental status and the potential need for EI services.
Where to Start
What's the first step? The evaluation.
The Service Coordinator may start with a screening which will ask a few questions about your child’s development in order to determine if your child needs an evaluation. You may request a multidisciplinary evaluation at any point during the screening process.
To prepare for the evaluation, follow this basic checklist:
Inform the Service Coordinator if you need an interpreter or other assistance.
Be ready to share information you feel is important, including current health appraisal, medical records, a baby book, growth chart, or other evaluations or reports.
Think about your child and any questions or concerns you might have related to his or her development.
Be prepared to share information about activities that are challenging for your child and family to participate in at home, in the community, and at child care, as well as activities your child and family enjoy doing together.
Think about where your current support comes from, for example, your extended family, a faith community, your neighborhood, a parent group, etc.
The evaluation will look at all areas of your child’s development. During the evaluation, you and members of the team will talk about the good things your child is doing as well as identify any concerns. It will also determine the strengths and needs of your child and family. If your child is determined eligible, the information from the evaluation will help the team know what is important to your family and will help create meaningful individualized services.
IFSP and Transitioning
When do Early Intervention services and supports start?
The IFSP is the foundation of Early Intervention services. Early Intervention services must start no later than 14 calendar days from the date you agree to the services described in the IFSP, unless you and the team recommend a later date.
You may request an IFSP meeting to discuss the potential need for changes at any time by getting in touch with your Service Coordinator.
To prepare for an IFSP Meeting, follow this checklist.
Identify your child’s unique qualities and strengths.
Think about what you and your family want for your child now, and in one, two, or five years from now, or even as an adult.
Identify the questions you have regarding your child. All questions are important. For example: Why is she so fussy? Why is he so quiet? Is that ok? Is that a concern?
List what you and your child really enjoy doing such as: playing with water or sand, watching TV, or going for walks. This will help you and the teams identify how you can use these routines to help your child develop and grow.
Consider the special needs your child has. What might your child need to reach his or her full potential? What about adaptive equipment, feeding or self-help skills, help to move around, or help to communicate?
Consider issues for which you would like help in finding the solution. For example: Does your family like to go to the beach, but you’re concerned about how to take your child?
Transitioning into Early Intervention means movement from one program to another, such as:
From the hospital to your home
From an infant/toddler early intervention service to a preschool early intervention service
From early intervention services to other early care and education settings, such as Head Start or child care programs
Planning For a Successful Transition
You need to know all the options, so be sure to ask the following questions:
What is needed for my child?
What is available?
Who is involved?
Where are they?
When is this transition going to occur?
How will the transition occur?
What activities will help my child adjust to the transition?
How can my family and child be supported through this change?
What happens during an Early Intervention planning meeting? It all depends on your child’s age.
If your child is in the county infant/toddler Early Intervention program, the year before your child’s third birthday, the Early Intervention program will invite you to a transition meeting to discuss options. The transition meeting should occur 90 days before your child’s third birthday.
Individualized Supports and Services, explained.
Early Intervention supports and services are individualized for each child and family. The plan developed for each child and family will reflect their unique activities, values, and community participation. Services and supports should match the family’s priorities and concerns, will vary from family to family, and should change as priorities and concerns change. There are many ways for families to receive services and supports. Location, frequency, or type of service or support is not based on the child’s age or type of disability. The outcomes identified by the family and the child’s team will guide the choices of services and supports necessary to accomplish them.
Friends, neighbors, early education practitioners, playgroups, churches, libraries, and other community supports enhance the quality of every family’s life. Services using natural routines and activities support and encourage families to find and strengthen natural supports outside the Early Intervention system. These supports, established when the child is young, are likely to remain throughout the child’s school years and into adulthood.
Early Intervention can be provided at home, in childcare, in conjunction with Early Head Start, or combinations of these that the family and team determine are the most appropriate for the child’s progress. Services and supports can also change as needed.
Getting More Information
Access to a Child’s Information
All child information is kept confidential, and only persons authorized by federal and state confidentiality, privacy, and security laws have access to the records.
This means that:
Only the staff directly involved with your child has access to their information.
State and county personnel have limited access to child information for the purposes of monitoring the delivery of early intervention services.
Information about your child will not be shared outside a program, except as permitted by law with parental consent.