Step 1: Referral

Your first step into the Early Intervention Program begins with your child's referral to your Early Intervention Official (EIO).

Professionals must refer babies and toddlers to the Early Intervention Official  unless the parent says no  when there is a concern about child development. As a parent, you can also refer your child to your Early Intervention Official if you suspect a problem.
If you have this book, chances are your child has already been referred to your Early Intervention Official. If you do need to make a referral you can:
1. Contact your Early Intervention Official, or call 1-800-522-5006; in New York City–311.
2. Talk with your doctor or someone else you trust and ask them to help you with the referral.

The referral process helps you learn about the Early Intervention Program. You must decide if early intervention makes sense for you and your child. You must give your permission to have your child evaluated for the program and to receive services. Referral When a professional refers a child to the EIP, he or she must:
* Tell parents about services available and how services may help.
* Inform parents that the child will be referred – unless the parents say no to the referral.
* Inform parents about the referral in the language they use, whenever possible.
* Make sure all information given to the EIO is kept confidential.
 
 



Step 2: Meeting Your Initial Service Coordinator

Once your child is referred, your Early Intervention Official will assign an initial service coordinator to work with you and your family.
The job of your initial service coordinator is to help you with all the steps to your first Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Your initial service coordinator will start by setting up a time to meet with you to explain the Early Intervention Program.

Your initial service coordinator will talk with you about your concerns about your child's development. She or he will:
- Make sure you have a copy of A Parent's Guide to the Early Intervention Program.
- Review your family rights and make sure you understand them.
- Talk with you about your child's evaluation for the program.
* Give you the list of evaluators in your county and help you pick one that will meet your child and family needs.
* With your permission, help arrange for your child's evaluation.
* Help you arrange for transportation to your child's evaluation, if you need it.
* Go with you to your child's evaluation if you wish. If your child's evaluation shows that she or he is eligible for the Early Intervention Program,

your initial service coordinator will:
* Set up a meeting to work on your IFSP.
* Help you understand what this meeting will be like, who else must be there, and who can be invited.
* Answer your questions about the Early Intervention Program.
* Explain how your health insurance can be used and that early intervention services will be at no cost to you.
* Help you resolve any problems that might come up – including disagreements about the services you and your child might need.

If the evaluation shows that your child is not eligible for early intervention services, your initial service coordinator will tell you about other services that can help. Or you can appeal the decision (see "Your Rights as a Parent in the Early Intervention Program," page 26, to learn more about appeals). If you and your initial service coordinator agree that your child needs help right away  before his or her evaluation,  you can get services started with an Interim Individualized Family Service Plan (interim ISFP).

An interim IFSP is possible as long as you and your Early Intervention Official agree to needed services, your child's evaluation is completed, and an IFSP meeting is held within 45 days of referral. An Interim Individualized Family Service Plan must include: * The name of the service coordinator who will be responsible for the interim IFSP.
* A physician's or nurse practitioner's order, if needed, for early intervention services in the interim IFSP.
* The early intervention services needed immediately and the location, frequency and intensity, and providers of these services.
Interim IFSP An interim IFSP may be needed when:
* A doctor recommends services begin right away.
* A baby or toddler has trouble feeding (such as poor or no sucking ability) and needs nutrition or therapy services to help.
* Family stress is high, and the child is at risk for out-of-home placement.



Step 3: Having Your Child Evaluated

If you decide that the Early Intervention Program can help your child, the next step is to have your child evaluated.
The reasons for the evaluation are to:
* Find out if your child is eligible for early intervention services; and,
* Gather facts about your child's strengths and needs that will help you make good decisions about services.
If your child has a diagnosed disability, she or he will always be eligible for early intervention services. Your child will still need a multidisciplinary evaluation to look at all areas of development and help with the development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Every child referred to the Early Intervention Program has the right to a free multidisciplinary evaluation.

Multidisciplinary simply means that more than one professional will be a part of your child's evaluation.
Your child's evaluation team should have:
* A professional who can look at your child's overall development.
* A professional with special knowledge about your child's problem. For example, if your child is delayed in sitting up, walking, or other motor abilities, a motor therapist might be on your child's team. Your initial service coordinator will give you a list of evaluators.
You have the right to choose any evaluator from this list. Ask your initial service coordinator if you need more information about an evaluator. Your initial service coordinator can give you more details and help you decide on an evaluation team that will be best for your child and family. Once you pick an evaluator, either you or the initial service coordinator – with your permission – will call the evaluator and make an appointment for your child and family.

You, your service coordinator, or your evaluator must tell your Early Intervention Official about your choice. Checklist of important evaluation information * Types of professionals that will be on your child's team and an explanation of what they will do.
* How long the evaluation will last.
* Your child's developmental age levels and what that means.
* A diagnosis, if possible.
* Specific areas where your child needs help.
* Explanation of tests – if any – that will be used and what these tests can and cannot tell you about your child's development.
* What the evaluator is looking for in your child's responses.
* What your child does well.
* What your child needs help with, and suggestions about how you can help.
* The types of services that may help your child and family.
* The name of another parent or parent group that can offer support.
* Books, newsletters, magazines, and videos to help you find information about your child's developmental needs....


Step 4: Making a Plan for Services

 - Your IFSP I-F-S-P means...
Individualized...
the plan will be specially designed for you, your child, and your family.

Family...
the plan will focus on your family and the outcomes you hope to reach for your baby or toddler and your family through early intervention.

Service...
the plan will include all the details about the early intervention services your child and family will participate in including when, where, and how often services will be delivered. Your IFSP can also include other services that your child and family needs that will not be paid for by the Early Intervention Program.

Plan...
the plan is a written plan for early intervention services. ...
family-centered! If your child is eligible for the Early Intervention Program, the next step is to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Your IFSP must be completed within 45 days after your child's referral to the Early Intervention Official, unless YOU "stop the clock" (for example, if your child is sick and the evaluation must be delayed). The IFSP is the written plan for the early intervention services your child and family will receive. You will work on this plan at an IFSP meeting. Your initial service coordinator will set up the meeting to work on your IFSP. Your initial service coordinator will tell you what happens at the IFSP meeting and help you prepare.
Some facts you need to know are:
* The IFSP meeting must be held at a time and place that is good for you and your family.
* You, your initial service coordinator, your Early Intervention Official, and evaluation team – or selected member of the team – must take part in the meeting. Your Early Intervention Official may send someone else to represent him or her (an Early Intervention Official "designee"). The Early Intervention Official may also ask your service coordinator to act as "designee."
* You can invite others to be at the IFSP meeting – family, friends, your babysitter, or child care provider.
* Your service coordinator can invite others to take part in the meeting, with your permission.
* You can ask an advocate to take part in the meeting. * You need to give permission to use any information from your family assessment, if you had one.
* You will be asked to select an ongoing service coordinator at the meeting.
* The meeting will be held in the language you speak, unless it is clearly impossible to do so. Before the meeting, your initial service coordinator will make sure you understand your child's evaluation. She or he will also talk with you about the possibilities for early intervention services.
Here are some suggestions for what to think about when planning for your IFSP meeting, and things you may want to talk about with your initial service coordinator: * How would you describe your child to others?
* What is working well for you at home?
* What do you need help with?
* What help do you want for your child?
* What do you need more information about?
* What places or activities in your community could early intervention help your child take part in?




Step 5: Putting Your IFSP Into Action

An important goal of the Early Intervention Program is to make sure infants and toddlers get early intervention services as quickly as possible. The sooner, the better! Your family's IFSP will include the dates, as soon as possible after the IFSP meeting, when early intervention services will begin. Your ongoing service coordinator is responsible for making sure the early intervention services in your IFSP are delivered and helping out with any problems. Putting your IFSP into action, though, is a team effort! You and your family are important members of the team.
Be a part of your child's services. You can do this by:
* Being with your child when she or he is getting early intervention services. Arrange for services at times good for you, when you can pay full attention to what's happening.
* Asking the professionals working with your child to teach you the skills you need to help your child make progress.
* Keeping notes, a diary, or a journal about how well services are working and how well your child is doing. Think about what is and what isn't working. Ask for a change in services if you think a change is needed. Reviewing, evaluating, and changing the IFSP As your child grows and changes, so will the early intervention needs of your family. To be sure your IFSP keeps pace with your family and stays useful, the Early Intervention Program requires:
* Six-month reviews of the IFSP. The review may – or may not – include a meeting. If everyone agrees, the six-month review can be completed over the phone or by mail, or other ways that don't involve a meeting.
* Annual meetings to evaluate the IFSP.
* A process for changing the IFSP between the six-month reviews and annual meetings. Your ongoing service coordinator is responsible for making sure the IFSP is reviewed and evaluated on time.

The following persons take part in the six-month reviews and annual meetings to evaluate the IFSP:
* You and anyone you ask to participate.
* Your ongoing service coordinator.
* Your Early Intervention Official or designee.
* The professionals who are providing services to your child and family, if it makes sense to include them.
* Other persons invited by your service coordinator, with your permission.
* An advocate, if you invite one. The six-month reviews and annual meetings to evaluate the IFSP are designed to make sure that the IFSP still makes sense for your child and family. You and the other participants will look at how well early intervention services have helped your child and family meet the outcomes in your IFSP.

You will also talk about what should be changed in the IFSP. This may include:
* Adding new outcomes and dropping old ones that have been reached – or that are no longer important or useful.
* Changing strategies and activities to help meet new outcomes or outcomes that have not been reached yet.
* Changing the services needed by your child and family. Just like your initial IFSP, you and your Early Intervention Official must agree on IFSPs that come out of six-month reviews and annual IFSP meetings.

 You will be asked to sign the IFSP, to show you agree and give your permission to provide services. And just like your initial IFSP, you can ask for a mediation or impartial hearing if you disagree with your Early Intervention Official about certain services – while getting the services you do agree on. You can request a review of your IFSP at any time. Your ongoing service coordinator can set up an IFSP review whenever one is needed.



Step 6: Transition means passage from one form, state, style, or place to another

All too soon, your child will be turning three years old! As your child changes from a "toddler" to a "preschooler," he or she will also be "transitioning" from the Early Intervention Program to other services.
Children can stay in the Early Intervention Program for a short time after they turn three. If your child's third birthday is between January 1st and August 31st, your child can stay in the Early Intervention Program until August 31st of that calendar year.* If your child turns three between September 1st and December 31st, your child can stay in the Early Intervention Program until December 31st of that calendar year.....
* Your ongoing service coordinator will help you plan for other services when your child leaves the Early Intervention Program. Some children will no longer need any services.

Other children and families may go on to early childhood programs or to other appropriate services in the community. Many children in the Early Intervention Program will be eligible for preschool special education services from their school districts and counties. The steps to transition A transition plan must be developed for every child leaving the Early Intervention Program and going into other services. Usually, the transition plan is developed at your last IFSP meeting before your child transitions.
Your child's transition plan will include: The steps needed to help your child get used to and get along in a new setting.
The steps needed to prepare service providers who will help your child transition to a new setting and/or services.
The individuals responsible for taking the steps needed to help your child make the transition. With your permission, your service coordinator will incorporate the transition plan into your IFSP.
If you or someone else thinks your child may be eligible for preschool special education services, your Early Intervention Official will notify the Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE) in your school district. Your Early Intervention Official can notify the CPSE only with your permission. If you give your permission: Your Early Intervention Official must notify the CPSE at least 120 days before your child can start preschool special education services. Your service coordinator will review transition steps with you.
Your service coordinator will send evaluations, IFSPs, and other records to the CPSE – with your permission. If your child is referred in writing to CPSE, you have the right to select an evaluator approved by the State Education Department from a list provided by the Board of Education.

The CPSE, with the approved evaluator, may review the existing evaluations and records sent by your service coordinator to determine if there is a need for additional evaluations before you and the CPSE can decide if your child will be eligible for preschool special education services. If you agree, your Early Intervention Official will convene a conference with you, your service coordinator, and the chair of the CPSE in your school district to discuss your child's transition.

This conference must happen at least 90 days before your child's third birthday. A transition conference can happen in many ways. For example, it can be a telephone conference call, or it can be combined with the first meeting of the CPSE. The transition conference must be at a time and place good for you and the other participants.

For more information about preschool special education services, contact the Preschool Special Education Unit at the State Department of Education at (518) 473-6108.
*These dates apply only to children who are eligible for CPSE services. Otherwise, a child's eligibility for EI services ends at the child's 3rd birthday. (An amendment to Public Health Law Sections 2541 and 2548 on age-eligibility for EI services was passed as part of the 2003-2004 NYS budget.) Preparing for transition Here are some tips for preparing your child and family for the transition from the Early Intervention Program to preschool special education services: Learn what transition is and why it is important for your child and family.
Learn what is the same and what is different between early intervention and preschool.

Make sure your last IFSP includes all the necessary steps to help your child make a good transition to preschool special education services or other early childhood services. Find out what you need to know and what skills you need to develop to make sure you get the most out of preschool special education services. Get a copy of A Parent's Guide to Special Education – published by the State Department of Education. Ask your school district for your free copy.

Call your local Early Childhood Direction Center (see "Welcome to the Early Intervention Program").

The ECDCs are funded by the State Department of Education to help parents and children get preschool special education services. Some questions for parents to think about in making the transition are: What new information is needed about your child? What skills will your child need to get along in a new setting? Are there adaptive equipment needs, or modifications needed where your child will be getting preschool special education services?

 

 

 

 

 

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