Early Intervention is a program for children who are between the ages of birth and 3 years old. It is a state and federally mandated program that provides support for families, teaching them how to play with their child in ways that will help them learn different skills they need for things they do every day.
How do I get started?
Each county is different. In Lake County, service coordinators at Child and Family Connections (CFC) #2 coordinate a family’s services. Concerned parents can make a referral by calling (847) 377-8911.
Families may be re-directed by CFC to have a developmental screening and often families start with this step. Pediatric Interactions is one of the sites within Lake County that offers FREE screenings. These can be scheduled by contacting us at 847-223-7433 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional screening sites are also available on the Lake County website.
How would my child be eligible for EI?
After meeting with your child’s service coordinator, evaluations are scheduled. There will be at least two specialists coming to your home to play with/test your child, ask you questions and then determine if your child is eligible.
In order to be eligible for Early Intervention services in the state of Illinois your child must have a significant delay, that means their score must reflect their performance is 30% or more behind their peers in one or more area of development, including; physical (motor), cognitive (learning), communication (interaction), social/emotional (behavioral) and/or adaptive (self-help) skills.
Some children have a medical diagnosis that may make them “at-risk” of a significant developmental delay and are therefore eligible EI.
What does EI cost?
FREE……The evaluations and service coordination provided through the EI program do not have a fee associated.
If your child is found to be eligible to receive services you may have to pay a family participation fee for these services. This fee is based on income, family size and if you have excessive out-of-pocket medical expenses and is further navigated with your service coordinator. Private insurance does cover some services, depending on your plan.
What types of services are offered though EI?
If your child is found eligible at the evaluation, a Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed with your child’s team, which includes YOU.
Goals/outcomes and strategies/activities that can be done within your family’s daily routines will be discussed based on your child’s strengths and needs.
Then the team discusses the services which are recommended to help your child meet these goals/outcomes. These services are always provided within the child’s natural environment (e.g., at-home or daycare).
The services offered in EI include: assistive technology, audiology/aural rehabilitation, developmental therapy, family training and support, health consultation, medical services (only for diagnostic or evaluation purposes), nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological/counseling services, service coordination, sign language or cued language, social work, speech language pathology, transportation, vision, and translation/interpretation to other languages.
What happens after my child turns three and EI services end?
EI services end the day before your child’s third birthday.
Your service coordinator and rest of your team will assists with the transition process even before your child’s birthday. Your child’s school may be involved in determining if he/she is eligible for therapy in school or other programs (e.g., early childhood or at-risk classrooms.)
Some children “graduate” from EI by meeting all of their outcomes or are no longer found to have a significant delay.
What can I do if my child is not eligible to receive Early Intervention services?
Not all children qualify or show a significant delay from what their peers are doing. But parents may still have questions, concerns or want more help. Families can pursue private services, community classes or groups, preschool programs, etc.
For more information on private speech language services or about the different programs offered visit Pediatric Interactions online or call (847)223-7433.
For more information on FREE classes and workshops offered for families with infants/toddlers in our area visit WeeBits.
Written by Lindsey Fry, MA, CCC-SLP/L and co-founder of WeeBits and Sarah Rosten, Clinical Director and Speech-Language Pathologist. All thoughts and opinions belong to the authors.