What is the Early Intervention (EI) Program?
The Early Intervention (EI) Program is a voluntary program for families with a child who has a disability or developmental delay and is under 3 years old.
The EI Program monitors, evaluates, and provides many services for the child and the family. There is no cost to families for any of these services.
This program is offered locally by the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH). It is a federal, state and local partnership that grew out of federal legislation (Public Law 99-457: Public Law 101-476) and must follow NYS regulations.
What Services are Provided?
The Early Intervention Program offers a variety of therapy and support services including:
- Physical therapy (PT)
- Occupational therapy (OT)
- Hearing services
- Vision services
- Speech services
- Family education and counseling, home visits, and parent support groups
- Nursing services
- Nutrition services
- Psychological services
- Social work services
- Special instruction
- Service coordination
- Assistive technology devices and services
A service coordinator will meet with you to give you information about the Early Intervention process and help you with screening and evaluation of your child's developmental status.
If your child is eligible, your service coordinator will help develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Services are provided at home, childcare, Early Head Start, and other community programs.
The service coordinator helps with links to resources, works with other agencies, and manages the services. The service coordinator is also available to assist you with other things, such as finding a pediatrician, getting health insurance, supplying information on child development and other family concerns.
Who is Eligible for EI?
Any family with a child age birth through two years (under age 3 years old) who:
- Has a confirmed developmental delay.
- Has a medical or physical diagnosis with a high probability of developmental delay.
- Has been screened and found to need further evaluation.
- Are suspected of or at high risk for developmental delays in one or more of these areas: cognitive, communication, gross/fine motor, social/emotional and adaptive (self-help).
Eligibility for services is made by NY State Department of Health and is based on the degree of delay or a child's diagnosis. The delay must be 33% in one, or 25% in two developmental domains. If the child’s communication is the only concern, then 2 standard deviations below the mean or other criteria as indicated in the NYS Regulations.
If your child is not eligible, your service coordinator will explain the developmental monitoring part of Early Intervention and other programs in the community that may be helpful to you. If a child is found not eligible, parents can request developmental monitoring.
Please feel free to call (716) 858-6161 if you have any questions.
What are the Steps in the Early Intervention Process?
See A Parent’s Basic Guide to the Early Intervention Program. This guide includes a diagram of steps, and it is available in many languages.
Steps in the Early Intervention process are:
- Visit by the initial service coordinator.
- Comprehensive evaluation to look at the child’s functioning in five areas of development to determine eligibility.
- IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) meeting to develop a service plan.
- Early Intervention services if the child is eligible.
- Review after six months and a yearly evaluation.
- Transition to preschool special education or to other early childhood services for those ages 3 years to 5 years old.
How do I Get a Referral to the Program?
To refer someone to the program, call the Early Intervention Program at (716) 858-6161.
Referrals come from many sources including:
- Parents and relatives
- Medical providers
- Community based programs and agencies
- Human service providers
- School districts
When Should I Refer Someone to the Program?
A referral should be made within two working days for a child that has a definite delay or diagnosed condition with a high probability of delay.
If delay is questionable, or other circumstances are present, the referral may involve judgement as to the best time to refer. Feel free to contact the EI Program at 716-858-6161 to discuss in more detail.
Refer when a medical provider feels that parents will benefit from further information, support, and guidance in getting evaluation and services for a child.
What Happens After a Referral is Made?
A service coordinator makes the first visit to explain the program and to have the forms signed. Evaluation and screening are done to determine eligibility. A service plan is made, and services begin for those eligible. Developmental monitoring is offered to families not eligible and to families with children at risk. The service coordinator continues to monitor services, review plans, and help with moving the child out of the Early Intervention Program and into special needs services or community programs.
Important Milestones in Your Child's Development from Birth to Five Years of Age
How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Check the milestones your child has reached by the end of 2 months. Talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.
The Pulse is a virtual website created to help caregivers and professionals meet their child’s needs and outcomes. The Pulse is filled with resource materials which families and professionals may find helpful in addressing a child’s area(s) of need or diagnosis. These resources were designed by Early Intervention (EI) specialists as well as by a family who moved through the EI process. The goal is to empower caregivers and professionals, to allow easy access, and to provide a user-friendly format to find information.
Early Intervention Program
95 Franklin Street, Room 837
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: (716) 858-6161
Fax: (716) 858-6892