Early intervention is a term used to describe the services and supports that are available to babies and young children with developmental delays and disabilities. This is a catch-all term so you might hear it used by providers to describe services, but it is also often used to describe state-run programs. Early Intervention is available in every US state and territory. These publicly funded programs provide services for free or at reduced cost for any child who is eligible.
Everyone is eligible to apply for early intervention services. The state-run program will perform an evaluation of your child’s skills and abilities to see what services they qualify for.
If you, your child’s doctor, or other care provider is concerned about your child’s development, ask to be connected with the local brand of your state’s early intervention program to find out if your child can get services to help. If your doctor is not able to connect you, you can reach out yourself. A doctor’s referral is not necessary.
Unfortunately, this process might take a while. You should expect to have to wait for the evaluation (possibly several weeks). Many early intervention programs have a waitlist because they don’t have enough staff to meet demand for services. However, if your child does qualify, you’ll be assigned a case manager who should help you navigate the program. This case manager will help you get started with services as soon as possible.