How do I know if my child needs early intervention?
As your child grows, monitoring your child's development is important! Many children under the age of three experience mild delays in their development, but some will have more significant conditions that lead to delays in development. Consult with your primary care provider to make sure that your child receives well child visits and developmental screenings using the Bright Futures schedule. You can also monitor your child's development using the free milestones tracking materials from the CDC's Learn the Signs, Act Early initiative.
Who is eligible for services?
Infants and toddlers are eligible to receive early intervention services if they have a:
- Qualifying diagnosed condition. View list of conditions.
- Significant delay in their cognitive, communication, adaptive, social-emotional or physical development (including hearing or vision), based on a comprehensive evaluation conducted by professionals using a standardized measure. You child may qualify with a large delay in one area of development, or smaller delays in several areas.
- Clinical opinion: Infants and toddlers may also be determined to be based on an informed clinical opinion when problems with development are noted, or when cultural considerations, age, or illness make evaluation difficult or invalid.
How do I refer my child for early intervention?
If you or your primary care provider have noticed delays in your child's development, or if your child has a qualifying diagnosed condition that's likely to affect his or her development, please contact the First Steps Central Referral Unit. Fill out the referral form below and send it to us, or complete the Referral Form over the phone by calling (601) 576-7427 in the Jackson area, or toll-free at 1-800-451-3903.
What happens after a referral?
When the First Steps program receives a referral, we share it with the Local Early Intervention Program (LEIP) where the family resides. A Service Coordinator from the local program will be assigned to the family, and will try to call you within 48 hours of receiving the referral. They will describe the program, and arrange a time to conduct an intake visit. The Service Coordinator is also required to mail you a written notification of the referral.
Intake visit: The intake visit usually takes one hour. The Service Coordinator will explain the program and your family's rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), explain the Systems of Payments for early intervention, and obtain your consent to begin the process of evaluation. This includes a release of information for any needed medical or educational records. During this visit, the Service Coordinator will begin to get to know you and your family, so they can better serve your unique needs.
If your child has a qualifying diagnosed condition, the Service Coordinator will work with you and your primary care provider to get medical records to help determine eligibility. The medical records will be reviewed by a team of Early Interventionists who will work with you and your Service Coordinator to decide whether your child is eligibility for services. If you and your team decide your child is eligible, the team will then conduct a comprehensive assessment of your child's development. This will include cognitive, communication, adaptive, social-emotional, and physical development, using a standardized tool to determine his or her strengths and areas of concerns.
If your child does not have a qualifying condition, the team of Early Interventionists will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine eligibility. The evaluation will assess of your child's cognitive, communication, adaptive, social-emotional, and physical development using a standardized tool to determine his or her strengths and areas of concerns. The evaluation also reviews medical and educational records, interviews key caregivers, and makes observations of your child. Then you and your team will decide whether your child is eligible, based on the results of the evaluation.
Your child may be eligible based on clinical opinion. Even if your child does not have a qualifying diagnosed condition, and does not have a significant developmental delay according to the team's evaluation, your child may be eligible based on their clinical opinion. This option may be used when problems with development are noted or when cultural considerations, age or illness make the usual evaluation difficult or invalid.
What happens if we are eligible for services?
If your family is eligible, your Service Coordinator will arrange a time to conduct a family assessment known as the Routines Based Interview. This interview, along with results of the evaluation or assessment, will be used to develop your Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The IFSP will identify your concerns, your goals for your child and your family, and what early intervention services and support you need to achieve your goals.
After you and your team agree upon and sign the IFSP, you will be referred to public and private Early Intervention Service Providers in your area who can assist you with meeting your goals. These Early Interventionists will contact you directly or through your Service Coordinator to arrange a specific time and schedule to work with you and your family.
What are early intervention services like?
Early Interventionists will help you make changes around your home and show you ways to encourage your child to be more successful in their daily activities and routines. Young children need lots of practice to be able to learn. By making changes in your home or community where your child spends most of their time your child will have more opportunities to learn new skills.
Families and professionals work together to provide early intervention in your child's natural environment — that is, the home and local community. Receiving early intervention in a natural environment is a requirement of the program and a key principle underlying how early intervention works. Delivering services this way empowers family members to provide learning opportunities for their children every day.
Sometimes services cannot be provided in the child and family's natural environment. In those cases, the professionals may provide services in a clinic or local health department. Your team will transition those services to a natural environment as soon as they can. Your team will guide you in using approaches from the clinic in your home and community.