Early Intervention services are developmental services, provided through the state’s Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program in the Department of Early Learning (DEL). These services are designed to meet the developmental needs of eligible infants and toddlers and help parents help their child develop and learn. The purpose of early intervention is to build on family strengths by providing coordination, supports, resources and services to enhance the development of children with developmental delays and disabilities through everyday learning opportunities.
To be eligible for early intervention services, a child must have a 25 % chronological age delay or a 1.5 standard deviation delay in any one of the following developmental areas: cognitive, physical (including fine or gross motor), communication, social/emotional or adaptive, or have a physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay, such as Down syndrome. Families can talk to their health care provider about any concerns they may have about their child’s development. They may be able to provide a developmental screening to address concerns. Families are not required to have a doctor’s referral to get started in early intervention. The local Family Resources Coordinator (see below) can also assist families in getting a free developmental screening if needed.
Family Resources Coordinator (FRC)
The first stop for families of infants and toddlers age birth to three who have a concern about their child’s development is to contact their local Family Resources Coordinator (FRC). Each area has a lead agency that contracts with FRCs. In some cases, it’s a local Parent to Parent chapter.
If a child is eligible, the FRC will work with the family and early intervention service providers to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). This plan will address any physical, cognitive, communication, social, emotional and adaptive needs of their child. Family concerns, priorities and resources guide the entire IFSP process. The FRC works with the family throughout their child’s participation in early intervention and helps with transition into pre-school special education or other community services at age 3, if those services are needed.
Services a child and family may need include:
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Developmental services
Early intervention is a voluntary program that is funded by a variety of sources. This includes the use of a family’s private and public insurance and in some cases a monthly fee. Some services are covered at public expense such as FRC services, evaluation and assessment, development of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and explanation of their rights and safeguards associated with early intervention.
Some services are subject to family cost participation (FCP), such as therapy services. The FRC will provide them with more information about family cost participation. Families cannot be denied services due to an inability to pay for early intervention services. The FRC can also assist families with connections to obtain other resource, such as health care, food stamps, cash assistance or in-home supports.
Families can find the FRC contact information by calling the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588. Families can also find out the name of their local Lead FRC in their county by consulting the Lead Family Resource Coordinator and Local Lead Agency List on the Early Support for Infant and Toddler’s (ESIT) Early Intervention for families page.
For more information about the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers program, visit the ESIT website.
If your child is eligible for Medicaid, one of the best resources is called EPSDT, which stands for Early and Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment. With EPSDT, children can get a regular checkup and treatment for problems found during an exam. If your child is on Medicaid call Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) 1-800-562-3022 and ask about EPSDT services near you.
The Washington State Developmental Disabilities Administration, known as DDA, offers case management and services to eligible children and adults. While many of its programs are not based on income, they are dependent on appropriations by the state legislature and waiting lists are long.
Ask your Family Resources Coordinator how to apply for a DDA eligibility determination. Then, be sure to reapply for continued eligibility by age four. This will help ensure there are no gaps in your child’s eligibility for services.
PARENT RESOURCES FOR INFORMATION & SUPPORT
Some areas of the state also have non-profit local chapters of The Arc, which provide information, referral and advocacy. Look in your phone book or visit The Arc of Washington State website for more information.
Parent to Parent is a great place to connect for support, information, resource and referral. Parent to Parent is operated by and for parents of children with special needs. Call toll free at 1-800-821-5927 or visit Parent to Parent online.