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What are Early Intervention Services? Can they help my child?

What are Early Intervention services? If you’re worried that your baby or toddler isn’t meeting milestones, EI can help. Here’s how.

A small child with glasses getting Early Intervention services.

What are Early Intervention services? If you’re worried that your baby or toddler isn’t meeting their milestones, Early Intervention (EI) can help. EI services support infants and toddlers (up to age 3) who need help with their development. 

Early Intervention services help children learn the basic skills they need as they grow. Most children learn quickly by watching others and trying things for themselves, but some need a little extra support to hit their developmental milestones. EI Providers also teach parents and caregivers how to use play to support your child’s development. (What if my child is older than 3?)

Children’s brains adapt and learn more quickly in their first few years of life than at any other time. So if your child is struggling, this is the best time to give them extra support.

Early Intervention is available in every state and U.S. territory. It is free to many families; some states charge for services on a sliding fee scale that depends on your income. Find your state’s program.

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Louisiana’s Early Intervention program is called EarlySteps

Louisiana EarlySteps works on a sliding scale. This means that some families pay for services, and the amount depends on your income. When you enroll your child, the program will ask about your income and will send you a letter telling you how much your payment is, if any. 

The evaluation to see if your child qualifies is free for all families. If you have questions about how this works, ask your intake coordinator.

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Massachusetts’ Early Intervention program is free to all families.

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Who is eligible for Early Intervention (EI)?

Early Intervention is for infants and toddlers from age 0-3 who:

  • Have a diagnosed medical condition or social history that is likely to result in a developmental delay. Some common examples include Cerebral Palsy, being born prematurely, or experiencing neglect

OR

  • Are assessed and found to have a developmental delay in one of these areas:
    • Physical development (crawling, walking, seeing)
    • Cognitive development (learning skills or problem-solving)
    • Social-emotional development (showing feelings, playing with others)
    • Adaptive development (putting on clothes or feeding)
    • Communication (either understanding or expressing themselves)

Some states have slightly different requirements, so be sure to check your own state’s requirements. Early Intervention will need to do an evaluation to decide if your child meets these criteria.

If your child qualifies for EI, here are some of the different therapies and services that may be offered:

  • Home visits or therapy to work on skills in your home 
  • Assistive Technology
  • Speech-Language Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Vision Services
  • Social Work Services
  • Psychological Services
  • Nutrition Services
  • Support Coordination
  • Medical Evaluation, Health, and Nursing Services
  • Information, referrals, and training for families
  • Specialty services for kids who are autistic, blind, or Deaf/hard of hearing

(Read more about all of these in Early Intervention Assessment and Evaluation)

How do I connect with Early Intervention?

If your child is not hitting their developmental milestones, or if you think your child has a developmental delay or disability, it’s good to act as soon as possible. 

How do I know if my child has a developmental delay?

You can call Early Intervention to refer your child yourself. Or, if you prefer, you can talk to your child’s doctor first about your concerns. They may want to do a developmental screening to see if your child is on track. Your doctor or your daycare provider can refer your child to EI.

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Louisiana EarlySteps referrals

If you want to refer your child to EarlySteps, start by calling your region’s Early Intervention System Point of Entry (SPOE) office. Find contact information for the SPOE in your parish.

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Massachusetts Early Intervention referrals

To refer your child to EI, search for your city or town on this page. Call your local program directly to make the referral.

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When you speak to the program on the phone or in person, they will ask you for:

  • Child’s name
  • Parent’s name
  • Address
  • Phone number 
  • Date of birth
  • Primary pediatrician
  • Other doctors or agencies involved
  • Reason for referral
  • Insurance coverage

The EI program will schedule an intake visit to see if your child qualifies.

If your child qualifies, the next step will be to work with the EI team to write your Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Learn more about the IFSP.


If you’re worried about your child’s development, Early Intervention services can feel like a lifesaver. 

Learn more about Early Intervention services and eligibility:

Check out our page: Early Childhood Development Hub

Where you will find links to more articles on this topic.

A mother reads to her toddler on the couch.

Interested in our other resources for families?

Check out our landing page for families to see more of the topics we cover and learn more about Exceptional Lives.

A Black woman with long braids holds her toddler, who is resting on her shoulder.