If You Have Concerns - and Early Intervention Programs

Concerned About a Child in Your Care?

If you are concerned about a child in your care, first, discuss your observations with the parents. They may be concerned as well, and perhaps have already asked for their pediatrician's advice. If they are unaware that there may be issues with their child's development, approach the subject in a caring and sensitive way. Discuss your actual observations of the child. This could include behaviors (e.g., a child who is unusually aggressive or withdrawn) physical characteristics (e.g., a child with difficulties with coordination or skill development) social/emotional growth (e.g., child having severe separation anxiety or difficulty with social interaction) and/or learning issues (e.g., a child showing a poor attention span or problem following directions). If a parent shares these concerns, they may want to take them a step further. Let parents know about the local Early Intervention Program and provide contact information if they would like to arrange a developmental assessment.

Early Intervention Programs

Early Intervention Programs serve families of children with special needs from birth through three years or, in some states, birth through five years. Public Law 102-119, the most recent amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guarantees services to children with special needs. States differ as to how these services are delivered.

Early Intervention programs employ a team of professionals who specialize in the identification and treatment of children with special needs. The team may include developmental educators, nurses, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, physical therapists, pediatricians, and paraprofessionals. Early Intervention services are family focused. Services are specified in an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which outlines goals and strategies for achieving them. These plans are designed in conjunction with parents and the early intervention team. Services are usually provided in the home, child care centers, family child care homes, Early Intervention centers, and community settings. Services offered include:

  • Home visiting
  • Developmental assessments
  • Parent support groups
  • Parent-baby groups
  • Toddler play groups
  • Mental health counseling
  • Consultation to child care programs
  • Parent education
  • Support during the transition to public school

Page last updated: Aug 26, 2013