Each state has an early intervention program that is federally funded. To find out basic information or get a more detailed overview of the process, please look into your state’s program. This post will detail the evaluation steps for California’s Early Intervention Program, called Early Start under the Department of Developmental Services.
To start the Early Intervention process, a referral needs to be made. If you have concerns about your child’s development, the first recommendation is to have a conversation with your Pediatrician or healthcare provider. Most pediatricians will listen to your concerns and give you further information. They may make the referral to Early Steps.
However, some pediatricians have a ‘wait and see’ approach. If you still have concerns that are not eased by your pediatrician, you can self-refer your child to be evaluated! Healthcare providers, daycare providers, and family members can all reach out to Early Start for an evaluation.
You self-refer by contacting your local education agency or your local regional center. In California, the different regional centers are responsible for coordinating, scheduling, and purchasing or arranging for services. Early intervention services may be billed to your insurance, but families are not responsible to pay for services.
After the referral is made, the family will be contacted by a service coordinator who works for the local regional center. Once the service coordinator has contacted you, they will schedule an intake meeting. This may only be a phone call where they will ask for information and your consent to evaluate your child.
Information that will be asked includes:
- Your child’s birth history (and if any complications from pregnancy)
- Medical history or medications they take
- Age when they completed milestones (i.e., when did they roll over, crawl, babble etc)
- Your observations
- Your concerns
- Your goals
Based on the information you provide, the service coordinator will then schedule the evaluation. A team of at least two individuals will complete an evaluation in order to see if your child qualifies for services.
Based on your concerns, the evaluation may be completed by a
- Physical therapist to examine gross motor skills
- Occupational therapist to examine fine motor, self-help skills, or sensory processing abilities
- Speech-language pathologist for language or communication skills
- A social worker or psychologist to examine behavior, family needs, or emotional supports
You, the family, are part of the team. Your concerns and priorities are part of the determination process. If your child does qualify for services, the whole early intervention team will write an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) based on your child’s abilities and your concerns.
Following the IFSP, your local regional center will help you find in-home or support in other community contexts by arranging for services. This is where Milestones Pediatric Clinic comes in!
We receive requests from a service coordinator based out of the San Diego Regional Center. At Milestone, we have a team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists, who deliver in-home or community-based services as outlined in your IFSP.
If you have more questions or any concerns regarding your child’s development and would like a free 15-minute consultation, please reach out to our team.