“Early intervention” services refers to services given to very young children with special needs, generally from birth until the child turns three. These programs are sometimes called “Birth to 3” or “Zero to 3.” Early intervention is like special education for school-age kids, but it’s for eligible infants and toddlers. It gives them the support they need to make progress in life skills. There are also services for families who care for them.
Early intervention focuses on skills in these five areas:
- Physical skills (reaching, crawling, walking, drawing, building)
- Cognitive skills (thinking, learning, solving problems)
- Communication skills (talking, listening, understanding others)
- Self-help or adaptive skills (eating, dressing)
- Social or emotional skills (playing, interacting with others)
The services to facilitate development in these areas generally include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, which are provided either in an office or in the child’s home.
Like all states, New York has an Early Intervention Program (EIP) for eligible infants and toddlers under three years of age. There is no income eligibility for families with children who need Early Intervention Program services and services must be provided to families at no cost to them. Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly overall when implanted early in life.
Professionals such as doctors can refer your infant or toddler to the EIP, unless you object, when there is a concern about your child’s development. If parents have a concern, they can also refer their child to the EIP in the county where you live. County contacts can be found online at: www.health.ny.gov/community/infants_children/early_intervention/county_eip.htm Or, parents can call the “Growing Up Healthy” 24-hour Hotline at 1-800-522-5006; in New York City dial 311.
Some parents postpone getting early intervention services for their children. They may think that their child is just slower than others and will eventually “catch up” to their peers. This may not only be wishful thinking, but it can also be detrimental to a child’s potential. Early intervention offers a child the best bet for success in the future, so don’t avoid these services. In addition to the benefits for the child, early intervention programs also begin to develop a parent’s advocacy skills as their child enters K-12 schools. Early intervention is a good opportunity for parents to start practicing the sort of collaboration they’ll need later with school personnel.
Early Intervention and Care Coordination
CCOs may support applying for OPWDD Eligibility and planning so children may transition from Early Intervention to CCO Care Management Services. This transition generally occurs when the child ages out of Early Intervention. Care Management at this age is typically provided under provisional OPWDD eligibility and is redetermined around the age of 8.