Early Childhood Intervention means finding specific ways to help a child become as functional as possible. The first step of early intervention is evaluation. Once a child is evaluated, he/she can receive the appropriate type of treatment that he/she needs. Sometimes, getting your child help at an early age can enable him/her to reach his/her developmental milestone on target or close to target – to catch up to his/her peers.
“Who is rich? He/she who rejoices in his/her portion.”
Once you have sought early help, a service coordinator will talk with you about your concerns. If it is determined that there is a need during this discussion, an intake will be completed, and information will be obtained by the service coordinator with family agreement. The service coordinator will work with the family to schedule and obtain consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation/assessment of the child’s developmental levels and needs. Evaluation and assessment services are provided at public expense with no cost to parents. If found eligible for services, costs may be incurred by the family on a sliding scale (meaning, the fee is determined by a family’s overall total income).
What is an evaluation?
An evaluation is the process of gathering information about the child to see how he or she is developing and is used to determine eligibility for early intervention services. The evaluation is conducted by qualified professionals, in conjunction with the family, and provides information in several developmental areas such as communicating, feeding, behavior, walking/movement, vision and hearing. The evaluation also assists in defining the types and levels of services needed by the child and family. Written parent consent is needed before the evaluation can begin.
To check the eligibility criteria for early intervention services in Florida, please click here.
What are early intervention services?
Early intervention services are designed to address a problem or delay in development as early as possible. The services are available for infants and toddlers up to age three. Public and private agencies serve as Early Intervention Program providers (EIPs) and arrange for early intervention practitioners to address the needs of eligible children and their families. Following the evaluation and assessment, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed to describe the services that are needed by the child and family and how they will be implemented. Services are provided by qualified practitioners in natural environments, settings in which children without special needs ordinarily participate and that are most comfortable and convenient for the family such as: home, a community agency or childcare setting.
Additional local resources:
Florida Association for Infant Mental Health
Early Learning, Part of the Florida Department of Education
The Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers
Help Me Grow (HMG) is a unique, comprehensive and integrated statewide system designed to address the need for early identification of developmental and/or behavioral concerns, and then to link children and their families to community-based developmental and behavioral services and supports.