Parent's Questions and Answers

Determining Eligibility, Referring a Child, and Cost of Services

Who is eligible for the New York State Early Intervention Program?

Children are eligible for the EIP if they are under three years old and have 1) a diagnosed physical or mental condition that often leads to developmental problems, or 2) a developmental delay in at least one area of development (communication, social-emotional, adaptive, cognitive, and physical) that meets the criteria in Department regulations.

What if my child is three years of age or older and has or is suspected of having a disability?

A child with a disability who is three years of age or older may be eligible for the preschool special education program. More information about this program can be found at

How is eligibility determined?

Every county in NYS has an Early Intervention Official (EIO) who serves as the "single point of entry" for the EIP. All children referred to the EIO are evaluated by two or more professionals to determine if a child meets the eligibility requirements. This is called a "multidisciplinary evaluation." See NYSDOH's booklet The Early Intervention Program: A Parent's Guide for more information.

How do I refer my child to the Early Intervention Program?

You can call your county EIO if you would like to refer your child to the EIP. A list of local contacts where a parent can refer his or her child can be found at the following link on the Department's Web site: Municipal Contact for the Early Intervention Program.

How else will the EIO help me?

The EIO is responsible for making sure that eligible children receive evaluations at no cost. The EIO is responsible also for choosing an initial service coordinator to help a family arrange for the child's evaluation and assist with the Individualized Family Service Plan.

Why does the Early Intervention Program collect my health insurance information?

If you have health insurance, it may be used to help pay for early intervention services. The EIP can bill your insurance only if it is licensed or regulated by NYS. You will not have to make out-of-pocket payments or co-payments. The county and state will pay these expenses for you. NYS law prohibits payments made for early intervention services from counting against annual and lifetime caps that your insurance policy calls for.

Providing Early Intervention Services: Who, What, and Where

Who provides early intervention services?

Only qualified professionals who are licensed, certified, or registered in their field and approved by NYS can provide early intervention services. Qualified professionals include speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and others. A list of qualified professionals can be found in the Early Intervention regulations, Section 69-4.1(ak)(1)-(20), at the following link on the Department's Web site: Final Regulations—Subpart 69-4.

What is an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)?

The IFSP is a written plan for services that is developed for your child and family. It includes all the details about the services that your child and family will receive. It will therefore be specifically written for your family. The IFSP centers on the outcomes you hope your child will reach.

What early intervention services require a physician's prescription?

Services listed in the IFSP that are provided by nurses, occupational therapists, or physical therapists require a prescription before early intervention services can be provided. A written recommendation from a physician, nurse practitioner, or speech-language pathologist is needed for speech-language therapy.

Where are early intervention services provided?

Early intervention services are provided, to the maximum extent possible, in natural environments. Natural environments are places where children of the same age as your child who do not have delays would normally be. This is intended to help families support and encourage children's development. These places include homes, libraries, child care sites, and other places used by families with children under age three.

Can children receive early intervention services in a center-based program?

Yes, children can receive services in a center-based program if agreed to by the parent and the Early Intervention Official/Designee, and if specified in the IFSP.

What is the difference between a screening and a multidisciplinary evaluation?

A screening is a short test conducted by a qualified professional. It looks for developmental abilities called "milestones" in any or all of five developmental areas. It is used to help determine if your child is behind in any of these areas. (These areas are communication, social-emotional, adaptive, cognitive, and physical.) It also is used to decide if an evaluation is needed and what type may be best. You can ask for and receive a full evaluation for your child no matter what the screening results are.

A multidisciplinary evaluation is a more detailed look at your child in all developmental areas. It is done by qualified professionals who evaluate your child's development. This evaluation is used to find out if your child is eligible for early intervention services. It is also used to see what your child's strengths and needs are.

What is a family assessment?

A family assessment includes a review of several areas:

  • A family's resources—the strengths, abilities, and supports that a family can use to improve the child's development.
  • A family's priorities—the outcomes the family most wants from early intervention services.
  • Family concerns—the problems or needs a family wants to work on.

The family assessment is voluntary. All information that is shared is kept private. You decide what information, if any, to include in the IFSP.

Understanding Service Coordination

What is a service coordinator?

There are two types of service coordinators. An Initial Service Coordinator (ISC) is assigned by your EIO to help guide you through the first steps of EIP enrollment. These include referral and through the development of an IFSP. The ISC will explain each step to you and help set up the necessary evaluations to see if your child is eligible. The Ongoing Service Coordinator (OSC) makes sure that you and your child receive the services that are listed in your IFSP. The OSC also helps you make changes to your IFSP when needed and makes sure your IFSP is reviewed on a regular basis. You will be asked to choose your OSC at your initial IFSP meeting.

Can a family member be my service coordinator?

No, a service coordinator must meet certain qualifications and be approved by NYSDOH as an EIP service coordinator. Even if a family member had the qualifications, it would be a conflict of interest for a family member to be your service coordinator.

Your Parental Rights

What are my rights as the parent of a child in the EIP?

You have many rights. These include the right to say yes or no to having your child participate in the EIP. You have the right to take part in all decisions. Meetings are held at times and in places convenient for you. All information about your child and family is confidential. You have the right to have your opinions heard and considered if you disagree with others. See The Early Intervention Program: A Parent's Guide for more information.

What is a mediation?

A mediation is a meeting between the parent and the EIO, and a neutral person called a mediator. The mediator helps you and the EIO work out any disagreements about your child's EIP eligibility or your child's EIP services. Mediation discussions are kept confidential. See The Early Intervention Program: A Parent's Guide for more information.

What is an impartial hearing?

An impartial hearing is another way to settle disagreements with the EIO about your child's EIP eligibility or your child's services. An independent hearing officer assigned by NYSDOH will listen to both sides. A decision will be made within 30 days. See The Early Intervention Program: A Parent's Guide for more information.

After Early Intervention

What if I still have concerns about my child's development at three years of age?

Children who turn three years of age may be eligible to receive services in the preschool special education program. If you still have concerns about your three-year-old's development, contact the Committee on Preschool Special Education in your school district. More information about the preschool special education program can be found at the following Web site:

What is transition?

Transition includes steps that help a child who is receiving early intervention services move on to the preschool special education program. Some children may continue on with other programs or services. Or it may be decided that a child may no longer need services. These steps happen as your child gets close to his or her third birthday.

What if our family is moving to another state or to another NYS county while my child is receiving early intervention services?

You should notify your Ongoing Service Coordinator (OSC) that you will be moving. With your permission, your OSC will contact the EIP in the state or NYS county that you are moving to. The OSC will help you get services in that state or county.

Additional Information

How can I order early intervention publications?

An order form for EIP publications is available at the following link on NYSDOH's Web site: Early Intervention Publication Order Form. Publications are free if you live in NYS.

Where do I find the telephone number for my county Early Intervention Program or EIO?

Local numbers for your county Early Intervention Program or EIO can be found at the following link on NYSDOH's Web site: Municipal/County Contacts for the Early Intervention Program.

Where do I find the names of Early Intervention agencies or providers in my area?

Some counties list provider names on their Web sites. Also, you can request a copy of the NYS Central Directory for your area from NYSDOH. This directory lists everyone who can provide early intervention services in NYS. You can request it at the following link on NYSDOH's Web site: Early Intervention Publication Order Form.