Early Intervention Program

What is Early Intervention (EI)?

A federal, state and local collaboration that grew out of federal legislation (Public Law 99-457: Public Law 101-476) servicing the family and their child under age three who has documented or suspected developmental delays, or disabilities. 

  • Early Intervention is the voluntary developmental monitoring, evaluation and services program offered by New York State to families with children ages birth through two years who are at risk for developmental delay.
  • Your local county Early Intervention Program can provide a multidisciplinary evaluation of your child's development, and if eligible, provide services to your child and family.
  • For children at risk for developmental delay, a periodic mailing of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire will be set up with the family.
  • There is no cost to families for any of these services.

About the Program

  • Early Intervention (EI) is a voluntary developmental evaluation and services program offered by New York State and administered locally by the Erie County Department of Health. The County EI Program is subject to NYS regulations. EI serves children from birth through 2 years of age and their families where there is a high risk of delay, a suspected delay in development, or a confirmed diagnosis of developmental disability. Evaluations are conducted to determine eligibility. A variety of therapeutic and support services are offered to eligible infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. If a child is found not eligible, parents can request developmental monitoring.

Major Provisions of the Program

  • Identification and referral of children at risk or suspected of disability by primary referral sources
  • Periodic developmental screening and tracking of at risk children
  • Service coordination for eligible children and families
  • A multidisciplinary evaluation provided at no cost to parents to determine eligibility 
  • Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) for eligible children and families
  • Provision of early intervention services in the IFSP at no cost to parents
  • Delivery of services in natural settings in the community where children of the same age are typically found, to the maximum extent appropriate

Steps in the Early Intervention Process

Diagram of Steps

  1. Referral
  2. Visit by the Initial Service Coordinator
  3. A multidisciplinary evaluation to look at the child’s functioning in five areas of development, including the area(s) of concern to determine eligibility
  4. The IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) meeting to develop a service plan
  5. Early Intervention services if the child is eligible
  6. Review after six months/evaluate annually
  7. Transition to Preschool Special Education (3–5) or to other early childhood services

    Target Population

    • All children birth through two who:
      • Have a confirmed developmental delay
      • Have a medical or physical diagnosis with a high probability of developmental delay
      • Have been screened and found to need further evaluation
      • Are suspected of or at high risk for developmental delays in one or more of the following domains:
        • Cognitive
        • Communication
        • Gross/fine motor
        • Social/emotional
        • Adaptive (self help)

    Voluntary Entitlement

    • Parents must agree to participate; the service is to assist them with enhancing their child’s development.

    Role of Service Coordinator

    • Provides information and advocacy
    • Facilitates evaluation and links to resources
    • Coordinates across agency lines
    • Helps parents develop an IFSP
    • Monitors delivery of services and due process 

    Referrals to the Program

    Sources of Referrals

    • Primary medical provider
    • Community based programs/agencies
    • Parent/Relatives
    • NICU, Hospital Outpatient Clinics
    • Human Services
    • Local School Districts
    • Other

    When to Refer

    • When a child has a definite delay or diagnosed condition with a high probability of delay; referral should be made within two working days.
    • 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 EI to discuss (716) 858-6161.
    • When primary medical provider feels that parent will benefit from further information, support, and guidance in seeking evaluation/services for a child.

    How to Refer

    • Contact the Early Intervention Program at (716) 858-6161.

    Process After Referral

    • Service Coordinator makes initial visit to explain program and get signed consents.
    • Evaluation or screening takes place to determine eligibility (delay must be 33% in one or 25% in two developmental domains, or 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).
    • Service Plan is prepared and services begin for those families of children who are found eligible; developmental monitoring is offered to families of ineligible children or families with children at risk.
    • Ongoing Service Coordinator monitors service delivery, plans reviews and assists with transition of the child out of EI into either continued special needs services or community program.

    Services & Eligibility

    Mandated Services

    • Developmental monitoring for families of children at risk
    • Child Find
    • Multidisciplinary Evaluation 
    • Public Awareness
    • Monitoring Service Delivery
    • Individualized Family Service Plan
    • Service Coordination

    What Services Will you Receive?

    • A Service Coordinator will meet with you to give you information about the Early Intervention process and assist you in obtaining a screening and or evaluation of your child's developmental status.
    • If your child is eligible, your Service Coordinator will assist you in developing a family-centered plan, which assists you in enhancing your child’s development. Some of the service providers are physical therapists, special instructors or speech therapists. Most services are provided at home, or child care, Early Head Start, and other community programs, if appropriate.
    • The Service Coordinator is also available to assist you with other related issues, such as obtaining information on child development, finding a pediatrician, enrolling in health insurance and other family concerns.
    • If your child is not eligible, your Service Coordinator will explain the developmental monitoring component of Early Intervention as well as other programs in the community that may be helpful to you.

    Who is Eligible?

    • Any family with a child age birth through two years who has a suspected developmental delay or a diagnosis with a high risk of developmental delay, is eligible for Early Intervention. Eligibility for services is determined by New York State Department of Health criteria based on the degree of delay or a child's diagnosis.
    • Please feel free to call (716) 858-6161 with any questions.

    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. Take this with you and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.

    The Pulse

    • 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/or professionals may find helpful in addressing a child’s area(s) of need and/or diagnosis. These resources were designed by Early Intervention (EI) specialists as well as by a family who has moved through the EI process. The goal is to empower caregivers and professionals, to allow easy access and to provide a user friendly format for information access.


    Early Intervention Program
    95 Franklin Street, Room 837
    Buffalo, NY 14202
    Phone: (716) 858-6161
    Fax: (716) 858-6892

    01/25/2023 - 3:44 pm