Programs that help children and families

If your child has delays or suspected delays, your child’s doctor will probably refer you to an early intervention program in your area. The staff there might do additional evaluations and reassure you that your child’s development is normal or tell you that your child would benefit from some type of intervention. Your child does not need to have a diagnosis of a developmental problem to receive services through this program.

If your child is younger than 3 years, the referral may be to an early intervention program in your area. Early intervention programs are sometimes called “Part C” or “Birth to Three” programs. Early intervention is a federal- and state-funded program that helps children and their families. You may also contact the early intervention program yourself.

If your child qualifies for services, a team of specialists will work with you to develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). This plan becomes a guide for the services your child will receive until 3 years of age. It may include parent training and support, direct therapy, and special equipment. Other services may be offered if they benefit your child and family. If your child needs help after 3 years of age, the early intervention staff will transition your child to services through your local school district.

If your child is 3 years or older, the referral may be to your local public school. You may also contact the local public school directly. If your child is eligible, the school district staff will, with your input, develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This plan may provide some of the same services as the early intervention program but focus on school services for your child. The level of services also may be different. If your child continues to need special education and services, the IEP will be reviewed and revised from time to time.