Early Intervention (EI) is a federally mandated, federally funded program, in line with IDEA, to assist children, ages birth through three years old, with disabilities, delays and diagnosis, to receive help, education and assistance they need.
EI is federally mandated, meaning every state has to have some type of program in place to help children 0-3 who are showing a developmental delay, or have a diagnosis of some sort. The government tells the states they must have this program, but leave it up to each state how to run it (and what to call it). Here in NY the health department oversees EI and each county's health department or maternal/child health program oversees EI services within that county.
Any child identified as having a developmental delay, recognized diagnosis, age birth to three years old. Regardless of income, any child is eligible for EI services if they show delays in developmental areas or receive a diagnosis at any time.
In NY no fees are associated with EI at all. This varies from state to state. Having referred clients to other states, I know that Texas is a sliding-scale fee for services, based on income. They look at the parents' income and family is charged X dollars per month for all services the child receives. The client I was referring was going to pay only $15/month, but still it can add up. Honestly, NY has one of, if not, the best EI and disability services, and access to services. One family told me that in Florida her son could not receive occupational therapy unless he was severely Autistic. Her son was not Autistic, but desperately needed OT for fine motor and sensory processing. He could not receive it until they moved to NY.
This is why, on my end, the job can be stressful. As there are no fees to the families and it is federally and locally funded, my job is a 'fee for service' job. Which means, we have to maintain certain numbers and percentages to keep things afloat. But, that is not for families and recipients of EI to worry about. Just a tidbit for you.
In preparation for the rest of my EI series, let me familiarize you with some acronyms. There are a multitude of acronyms used in EI (see?) and can be confusing for families at first. We try to remember that we use these daily but parents are new to the system and can be easily overwhelmed.
EI: Early Intervention
ISC: Initial Service Coordinator (in Monroe County, it's the first person you meet with to discuss EI)
OSC: On-going Service Coordinator (this is my job, this person stays with you throughout your EI 'stay')
IFSP: Individual Family Service Plan (this is similar to an IEP, the plan that states services for the child)
That brings us to IEP: Individualized Education Plan (this is used from 3 years and up, not in EI)
OT: Occupational Therapy
PT: Physical Therapy
SLP: Speech Language Pathologist, or our shortcut for saying speech
Sped: special education services
SEIT: Special Education Itinerant Teacher (this is used in CPSE on your IEP, not in EI)
CPSE: Committee for Preschool Special Education (who we meet with when your child ages out of EI, in your district)
SW: Social Work/social worker
AT or AT equip: Assistive Tech equipment (includes specialized braces, walkers, chairs, etc.)
NUT: Nutrition services
Extended visit: technically this visit, by your therapist, is from around 60 minutes or more, typically it is an hour at your home.
Basic visit: this visit by therapists is from 1-59 minutes, but usually about 30 minutes.
Clinic visits: therapy sessions at a clinic/agency
Home-based: visits at your home, also daycare, or community site (library, playground, etc).
Also, here is my plan of what else you need to know about EI:
Part II: How do I know if my child needs EI and who do I contact?
Part III: What are delays and eligible diagnoses?
Part IV: Process for receiving EI services
Part V: Role of EI team (and my job)
Part VI: Transitioning out of EI into CPSE services
Any other things I may think off will make their way in here also.