Under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all states must implement a statewide system of services for infants and toddlers (from birth to age three) with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. See generally 20 U.S.C. §1431 et seq.
To determine if such services are necessary, there must be a timely evaluation of each disabled infant or toddler’s ability to function. See 20 U.S.C. § 1435(a)(3).
Following the evaluation, the state must develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to describe the services that are needed by the child and family, and how they will be implemented. See 20 U.S.C. § 1435(a)(4). Early intervention services are funded, in part, with state and federal funds.
In Massachusetts, a child is considered eligible for early intervention services:
- If he or she is under the age of three, AND
- If there are developmental concerns due to an identified disability, OR
- If his or her typical development is at risk due to certain birth or environmental concerns.
Services are to be comprehensive, integrated, and individualized to use a family-centered approach and to facilitate the developmental progress of eligible children.
Services may include assistive technology, audiology services; health services (clean intermittent catheterization, tracheotomy care, g-tube feeding, the changing of dressings or colostomy collection bags, and consultation with service providers concerning special health care needs); medical services (diagnostic or evaluation services by a licensed physician to determine a child’s developmental status and the need for early intervention services); nursing services and nutrition.
Other services available include occupational therapy and physical therapy; speech/language pathology; vision services (evaluation and assessment of vision, referral for medical or other professional services necessary for the habilitation or rehabilitation of visual functions); psychological services; social work services.
Anyone (a parent, doctor, caregiver, teacher, or friend) can refer a child to a certified Early Intervention program.
To find a listing of programs by city, call 1 (800) 905-8437 or visit the Massachusetts Family TIES website at www.massfamilyties.org/.
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