Q & A Forum: The Basics of Early Intervention

What is Early Intervention?
o Early Intervention (EI) is a state-funded program that provides services to help babies children birth to three years of age and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. Each state has their own EI program system that offers both assessments and ongoing therapeutic services. for children between the ages of zero and three and their families.

What steps do I need to take to enroll my child in EI services?
o You will begin by contacting your local EI office to set up an initial evaluation (please reference additional information below to find your local EI office). Anyone can refer a child to Early Intervention without a doctor referral. As a parent, you can refer your child for services without a doctor referral. You will be assigned a service coordinator who will work with you to schedule an evaluation with a team of EI professionals in order to determine your child’s eligibility. If your child is determined eligible, the EI team will create an ongoing service plan to best meet your child’s needs.

How do I know if my child qualifies for EI services?
o To determine EI eligibility, your child will need to complete an evaluation with a team of therapeutic professionals. The initial evaluation typically consists of assessments by a developmental therapist as well as a speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and and/or a a developmentalphysical therapist. Upon completion of the evaluation, the therapists will inform you of the results including any measurable developmental delays. If your child is found to be at least 30% delayed in one or more areas of development, the EI team in the assessment domains and will provide recommendations for ongoing therapy (frequency and intensity of services, i.e. one1 time per /week for 60 minutes) if applicable. At this time, the service coordinator will work with you and your team to create an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) detailing your child’s current needs and family-centered goals for therapy.
o Your service coordinator will find therapists in your area that have availability for ongoing services. The therapists will then contact you to schedule therapy sessions for your child. If you are interested in working with a therapist from PlayWorks Therapy, you may request one of our providers during the creation of the Individualized Family Service Plan (or at any time during the process). .

What services are provided?
o Early Intervention provides services to support all aspects of your child’s development. These services may include one or more of the following:
-Speech and language therapy
-Occupational therapy
-Developmental therapy
-Physical therapy
-Audiology or hearing services
-Assistive technology
-Counseling and training for a family
-Medical/nursing services
-Nutrition services
-Psychological services

Where are services provided?
o Every effort is made to provide services in your child’s natural environment. This means that therapy typically takes place in your home or at your child’s daycare/education center.

Who pays for these services?
o Under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, the following services must be provided at no cost to families:
-Initial evaluation to determine eligibility
-Development and review of the IFSP
-Service coordination
o Ongoing service fees are determined by the policies of your state. In Illinois, if you have public insurance (e.g. All Kids), all fees are waived. If you have private insurance, In Illinois, your family-fee is calculated based on the size of your family and your income. Additionally, you You will may be asked to provide your medical insurance information to determine if your public or private insurance will cover the cost of EI services. If insurance covers the cost of therapy, you will not be assessed a family fee. If services go towards your deductible or are not covered, you will be assessed your family fee. .
o You are not required to provide this information, however, and EI cannot use your insurance without your written consent. If you do not give consent, the program may not limit or deny services to you or your child.

What happens after my child turns three?
o If you and your team believe that your child would continue to benefit from therapeutic services, you can attend an evaluation through the public school system to determine eligibility for the Early Childhood program (3 to -5 years of age). Your EI service coordinator should contact you about three to six months before your child’s birthday to schedule this evaluation and to answer any questions you have about transitioning from Early Intervention to Early Childhood.
o If you do not wish to continue services with your public school system, you can contact a private therapy company, including PlayWorks Therapy, to schedule an evaluation and to discuss ongoing services.
If you are currently seen by a PlayWorks Therapy, please contact our office at (773) 332-9439 and speak with our case coordinator to facilitate a seamless transition.

I am interested in therapy; however, I am not interested in utilizing the Early Intervention program. What are the next steps?
o To schedule a private evaluation through PlayWorks Therapy, please call us at: (773) 332-9439, or email scheduling@playworkschicago.com.

For more information on the Illinois Early Intervention program, please visit the DHS website.

To determine your local EI office in Illinois, please visit the Provider Connections website.

Autumn Smith MS, CCC-SLP

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