The New York State Early Intervention Program (EIP) is part of the national Early Intervention Program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. First created by Congress in 1986 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the EIP is administered by the New York State Department of Health through the Bureau of Early Intervention. In New York State, the Early Intervention Program is established in Article 25 of the Public Health Law and has been in effect since July 1, 1993.
To be eligible for services, children must be under 3 years of age and have a confirmed disability or established developmental delay, as defined by the State, in one or more of the following areas of development: physical, cognitive, communication, social-emotional, and/or adaptive.
Early Intervention Services
The Early Intervention Program offers a variety of therapeutic and support services to eligible infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families, including:
- family education and counseling, home visits, and parent support groups
- special instruction
- speech pathology and audiology
- occupational therapy
- physical therapy
- psychological services
- service coordination
- nursing services
- nutrition services
- social work services
- vision services
- assistive technology devices and services
Welcome to the Early Intervention Program
The early years of a child's life are very important. During the infant and toddler years, children grow quickly and have so much to learn. Some children and families face special challenges and need extra help. Early help does make a difference!
The Early Intervention Program is a statewide program that provides many different types of early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. In New York State, the Department of Health is the lead state agency responsible for the Early Intervention Program.
Early Intervention services can help you and your family:
- Learn the best ways to care for your child.
- Support and promote your child's development.
- Include your child in your family and community life.
Early Intervention services can be provided anywhere in the community, including:
- Your home.
- Your child care center or family day care home.
- Recreational centers, play groups, playgrounds, libraries, or any place parents and children go for fun and support.
- Early childhood programs and centers.
As a parent, you help decide:
- What early intervention services your child and family need.
- The outcomes of early intervention that are important for your child and family.
- When and where your child and family will get early intervention services.
- Who will provide services to your child and family.
You are the most important person in your child's life. You know your child best. You understand your child's needs, and what is helpful and what is not. You have the most information about - and responsibility for - your child's growth and development. In a world of professional titles, consider yourself a FAMILY INFORMATION SPECIALIST!
If you think the Early Intervention Program can help you and your child, there are six steps to follow. A Parent's Guide to the Early Intervention Program starts by telling you about some of the basic facts about the Early Intervention Program. Then, A Parent's Guide explains each step to follow - and gives you tips on how to make early intervention work best for your child and family.
You are an important person in the Early Intervention Program. This is your book - it was written for parents, with the help of parents. We hope it will make your job as a parent a little easier!
Important Contact Information
For more information about the Early Intervention Program and its services, contact:
- Bureau of Early Intervention
Division of Family Health
New York State Department of Health
Corning Tower, Room 287
Albany,New York 12237-0660
For more information about early intervention, local phone numbers for your county Early Intervention Program, and other child-related services, contact:
- "Growing Up Healthy" 24-Hour Hotline
In New York City - 311
- New York Parent's Connection
(available Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm)
- Early Childhood Direction Centers
(see "Additional Information and Resources")
New York State Education Department
- Parent to Parent of New York State
(see "Additional Information and Resources")
- Parent Training and Information Centers
(see "Additional Information and Resources")
- Statewide (Except NYC)
1-800-650-4967 (New York State Only) www.advocacycenter.com
- In New York City
- Advocacy Services
(see "Additional Information and Resources")
First, the Basics...
Your Early Intervention Official (EIO)
In New York State, all counties and the City of New York are required by public health law to appoint a public official as their Early Intervention Official.
Get to know your Early Intervention Official. She or he will be an important person in your child's and family's early intervention experience!
Your Early Intervention Official is the person in your county responsible for:
- Finding eligible children.
- Making sure eligible children have a multidisciplinary evaluation.
- Appointing an initial service coordinator to help families with their child's multidisciplinary evaluation and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
- Making sure children and families get the early intervention services in their IFSPs.
- Safeguarding child and family rights under the Early Intervention Program.
The Early Intervention Official is the "single point of entry" for children into the Early Intervention Program. This means that all children under three years of age who may need early intervention services must be referred to the Early Intervention Official. In practice, Early Intervention Officials have staff who are assigned to take child referrals.
Parents are usually the first to notice a problem. Parents can refer their own children to the Early Intervention Official (see page 9, "Step 1: Referral"). Sometimes, someone else will be the first to raise a concern about a child's development. New York State public health law requires certain professionals to refer infants and toddlers to the Early Intervention Official if a problem with development is suspected. However, no professional can refer a child to the Early Intervention Official if the child's parent says no to the referral.
Your Service Coordinator
Your service coordinator is your key to early intervention services!
There are two types of service coordinators in New York State - an initial service coordinator and an ongoing service coordinator.
Your initial service coordinator will be appointed to you by your Early Intervention Official. Your initial service coordinator will help you with all the steps necessary to get services - from your child's multidisciplinary evaluation to your first Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
You will be asked to choose your ongoing service coordinator as part of your first IFSP. The main job of your ongoing service coordinator is to make sure you and your child get the services in your IFSP. Your ongoing service coordinator will also help you change your IFSP when you need to and make sure your IFSP is reviewed on a regular basis. You can keep your initial service coordinator - or you can choose a new person to be your ongoing service coordinator. Later in this book you'll find some tips to help you with this choice.
Your Rights as a Parent in the Early Intervention Program
Parents have rights under the Early Intervention Program that you should know. Your Early Intervention Official is responsible for making sure you know about your rights. These rights include:
- The right to say yes or no to having your child evaluated or screened and taking part in a family assessment.
- The right to say yes or no to participating in the Early Intervention Program without risking the right to take part in the future.
- The right to say yes or no to any certain type of early intervention service without risking your right to other types of early intervention services.
- The right to keep information about your family private.
- The right to look at and change your child's written record under the Early Intervention Program.
- The right to be told by your Early Intervention Official about any possible changes in your child's evaluation or other early intervention services before any changes are made.
- The right to take part - and ask others to take part - in all meetings where decisions will be made about changes in your child's evaluation or services.
- The right to use due process procedures to settle complaints.
- The right to an explanation of how your insurance may be used to pay for early intervention services.
Part of your service coordinator's job is to explain these rights to you and make sure you understand them and help you carry them out.
Your child's records
Your child's record includes all written materials developed or used for the Early Intervention Program. Your child's record may include:
- Information gathered as part of your child's referral to the Early Intervention Official.
- Screening and evaluation reports and summaries.
- Your family assessment (if you took part in one).
- Your Individualized Family Service Plan and all documents related to the plan.
- Progress notes and other information about your child's and family's services prepared by early intervention service providers (including your service coordinator).
- Any records about complaints you may have filed.
- All other records involving your child and family.
All information in your child's record must be kept confidential by the Early Intervention Official and early intervention evaluators, service providers, and service coordinators. You must give your written permission to allow information in your child's record to be released. There are two types of "releases" that you can sign:
- A selective release - this type of release requires you to identify the persons who can access the information in your child's record and from whom they can get the information.
- A general release - this type of release will allow information to be shared with individuals and agencies that will be providing services to your child and family.
No matter what type of release you sign, you can change your decision about who can access your child's record at any time.
What Else Should Parents Know About the Program?
The New York State Early Intervention Program is part of the national Early Intervention Program created by Congress in 1986 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA is the federal law that also gives all children and youth ages 3 to 21 years the right to a free, appropriate public education.
In 1992, the New York State Legislature created the State Early Intervention Program in Article 25 of the Public Health Law. The New York State Public Health Law gives all eligible children under three years of age the right to receive early intervention services in their Individualized Family Service Plans. The Public Health Law also ensures that:
- New York State's Early Intervention Program meets all the federal standards for early intervention programs.
- Parents have due process rights that apply to their child's early intervention services.
What are the Department of Health's responsibilities?
Some of the main responsibilities of the Department of Health, as lead agency, include:
- Administering and monitoring the statewide Early Intervention Program.
- Administering the statewide child find and public awareness system.
- Providing training and technical assistance to everyone involved in the Early Intervention Program.
- Keeping an updated statewide central directory of early intervention services, resources, and experts.
- Implementing a system of payments for early intervention services.
- Safeguarding parent rights under the Early Intervention Program.
What is the Early Intervention Coordinating Council?
The Early Intervention Coordinating Council (EICC) is an advisory council appointed by the governor to provide advice and assistance about the Early Intervention Program to the Department of Health. The EICC has 27 members, including:
- Five parents of children up to 13 years old with disabilities.
- Five providers of early intervention services.
- Two Early Intervention Officials.
- Two members of the Legislature.
- Commissioners, or their representatives, of the following state agencies: Department of Health, State Education Department, Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, and, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
- The superintendent of insurance.
- One person involved in the training of early intervention professionals.
- Six persons appointed by the governor.
Twelve of these members, including four parents , are recommended to the governor by the leaders of the New York State Senate and Assembly.
The Early Intervention Coordinating Council is a very important part of the Early Intervention Program. All meetings of the EICC are open to the public. The EICC meets at least four times a year. For more information about the Early Intervention Coordinating Council, contact the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Early Intervention, at (518) 473-7016.
What is a Local Early Intervention Coordinating Council?
Your county has a Local Early Intervention Coordinating Council (LEICC) made up of parents and professionals. The LEICC advises the Early Intervention Official about local early intervention issues such as gaps in services. LEICC meetings are a way to help you meet other parents and to learn more about the Early Intervention Program in your area.
Ask your service coordinator, or Early Intervention Official, for more information about your Local Early Intervention Coordinating Council. LEICC meetings are public, open meetings. Ask for the meeting dates, or ask how you can become a member.
We hope this Parent's Guide helps you and your family as you navigate the Early Intervention Program!
Early Childhood Direction Centers
There are 15 Early Childhood Direction Centers statewide, funded by the New York State Education Department, that provide information about programs and services for young children, ages birth through five, who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. These centers help families obtain services for their children.
Parent to Parent of New York State
This is a parentrun organization, with nine offices statewide, that brings parents of children with disabilities together with other parents who have children with the same or similar disabilities. Parents can discuss similar problems, successes, share information, and provide each other with support.
Parent Training and Information Centers
There are four centers staffed by experienced parents and professionals who provide information and training to families with children with disabilities, professionals working with families, and members of the community.
The New York State Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled provides a full range of advocacy services for persons with disabilities and administers contracts with a statewide network of legal and advocacy services.