You noticed that your baby isn’t able to do some of the things that other children his age can do.
What do you do now?
Who do you call?
Where do you go?
There are a lot of feelings and worries attached to getting services for your child. But, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your child the services they need!
Here are some tips to help you get started.
The whole process can be overwhelming; but the sooner you get started, the better. If a child is behind in development and he isn’t getting help, the gap will only get wider.
EARLY INTERVENTION—services for children birth to three years old
Children who are younger than three years old who qualify for services will receive them through the County Department of Health. The first thing you should do is contact your county DOH. Here is the information for Long Island, New York.
Services for Children with Special Needs:
Telephone (631) 853-3130
Telephone (516) 227-8661
Look for the early intervention or special education services number on your city or county’s department of health web page. The process will be the same.
What will happen next?
The County Department of Health will set you up with a “service coordinator”, who will be your “go-to” person in regards to getting your children’s evaluations set up and services delivered.
If your child has a diagnosed with a disability, she or he will always be eligible for early intervention services. Some children do not have a diagnosis but exhibit delays that cause their parents concern. Your Service Coordinator will set up 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. This is sometimes referred to as a “core 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 or other motor abilities, an occupational 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. You can ask your initial service coordinator if you need more information about an evaluator to help you decide what will be best for your child and family. You can also ask your friends or family if they have used a particular agency or evaluator that they were happy with. 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.
- The evaluators will usually come to your house for the evaluation. It takes between an hour and an hour and a half. They will play with your child, look for particular skills within their field, and ask you a lot of questions about your child, their milestones, etc.
- The evaluators will contact you (usually within a week or two) to tell you what they found, what they think your child’s strengths and weaknesses are, and if they qualify for services.
- Once it is deemed that your child qualifies for services, your Service Coordinator will help you to set up therapy and/or services for your child.
- The team will then develop an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) which will outline your child’s strengths and weaknesses. It will also state the goals that your child’s therapists will be working toward, and what methods they will use to achieve these goals. Your family will have input into the IFSP.
The information was obtained from NYSED, and Suffolk and Nassau County department of health websites. For more information, check out the links provided.
Getting Early Intervention Services can be overwhelming to start this process but you are not alone! Good Luck!
~Miss Jaime, O.T.