Frequently Asked Questions
What is Early Start?
The Early Start Program is California's response to federal legislation ensuring that early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families are provided in a coordinated family-centered system of services that are available statewide.
What is Early Intervention?
Congress established Early Intervention (EI) services in 1986 as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). EI provides a variety of services for children birth until age three intended to promote positive growth in physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development. IDEA requires that children suspected with developmental delays receive a comprehensive developmental evaluation to determine whether or not they would qualify for speech, occupational, and or physical therapy; psychological; vision and audiology services; and more. In some cases, an Annual Family Program Fee (AFPF) may be accessed.
How do I know if my child is eligible for Early Intervention?
Infants and toddlers from birth to age 36 months may be eligible for early intervention services through Early Start if, through documented evaluation and assessment, they meet one of the criteria listed below:
have a developmental delay of at least 33% in one or more areas of either cognitive, communication, social or emotional, adaptive, or physical and motor development including vision and hearing; or
have an established risk condition of known etiology, with a high probability of resulting in delayed development; or
be considered at high risk of having a substantial developmental disability due to a combination of biomedical risk factors of which are diagnosed by qualified personnel
If you need additional information about how to get Early Start services call (800) 515-BABY or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an IFSP?
An IFSP stands for Individualized Family Service Plan. When your child receives an initial developmental assessment, an IFSP is developed by the assessment team and the service coordinator to identify support and services that will help your child in the areas of need. The IFSP will include your child’s present level of development, goals and outcomes based on developmental deficits and family priorities and concerns, the name of your child’s service coordinator, and the date services will begin. An IFSP is updated every six months when the child’s early intervention team reassesses your child’s present level of development.
What is the most effective treatment?
Consistent evidence-based treatments are the most effective treatments in Early Intervention. Treatment for babies and toddlers look a lot like play, because children develop skills through play! Types of treatment and services are tailored to the child’s needs and the needs and priorities of the child’s family. Remember that what works for one child and family might not work for another. However, treatment is always hands-on with caregivers involved; caregivers’ role in the Early Intervention processes is impactful. Carryover of services helps accelerate your child’s progress and improves the quality of life.
How many hours is sufficient?
It truly depends on the quality of intervention and carryover from you as a caregiver. After the initial assessment, the multi-disciplinary assessors make their recommendations based on your child’s needs. Hours can range from one hour monthly to twenty weekly hours, but a child’s progress has more to do with caregivers’ participation than their natural brainpower. Parental effect is key to maximizing a child’s chance to progress.
Can my child be independent when he grows up?
Studies1 show that high-quality early intervention can significantly mitigate the effects of developmental delays. In addition, EI can alter a child’s developmental trajectory and outcomes. Unfortunately, there is no published research that shows how well a child would progress with early intervention services; however, based on a child’s needs and severity of symptoms, developmental clinicians can make educated conclusions. If you have more questions about your child’s development, contact us today!
What is ABA?
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the scientific discipline based on the application of techniques and principles to modify behaviors of social significance. ABA is the basis of most behavioral treatment concerned with the science of learning and behavior. Behavior analysts started working with children with autism and related disorders in the 1960s. ABA is considered the best evidence-based and most effective treatment for core deficits of Autism2.
What if my child is three years old?
If your child is about to “age out” of the Early Start Program because he or she is turning three, a transition plan coordinated by your service coordinator should be in place. A school district evaluation would determine if your child (aged three and up) qualifies for special education for children. If you are a parent of a child who did not receive Early Intervention, you can call or write to the director of special education in your child’s school district of residence to ask the school for an evaluation. Click here for useful information, tips, and advice about a child's transition from Early Start to the School District.
If you decide to go the medical route, your child must have a medical diagnosis and the condition must be deemed “medically necessary” to receive covered treatments.