What are Early Intervention Services?

Early intervention services are designed to address a concern with a delay in development as early as possible. The services are available for infants and toddlers up to age three. Early Intervention Program providers (EIPs) arrange for early intervention practitioners to work along side families and caregivers to address the needs as outlined in the Individualized Family Service Plan.   

How Does It Work?

Following an evaluation and/or assessment, a Service Coordinator will meet with the family.  She will ask the family if they would like to participate in a Family Directed Assessment (FDA).  The FDA helps hone in on what is the family’s concern’s, priorities and resources (CPRs).  The information gathered will be useful in developing an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP is developed and designed to address the family’s CPR’s that may include their child’s developmental needs.  Services are provided by qualified practitioners in natural environments, settings in which children without special needs ordinarily participate  such as their home, a community setting, such as a park or child care setting.

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Commonly Asked Questions About Early Intervention in NJ

What Should You Do If You Think an Infant or Toddler Is Not Growing or Developing as He or She Should?

Seek help early. The first three years of life are important, formative years in maximizing a child’s future potential. If you suspect that an infant or toddler may be experiencing developmental delays, the referral is made by calling the Regional System Point of Entry toll free number at 1-888-653-4463 and following the menu directions based on the county in which
the child (or family) lives.

A service coordinator will talk with the family about their concerns and obtain referral information
with family agreement. The service coordinator will work with the family to schedule and obtain
consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation/assessment of the child’s developmental levels
and needs. Evaluation and assessment services are provided at public expense with no cost to

Who Are Primary Referral Sources?

The Department of Health has established procedures for use by primary referral sources for referring a child. Primary referral sources include: hospitals, physicians, parents, child care programs, local educational agencies, public health facilities, other social service agencies, and other health care providers.

Primary referral sources in New Jersey must:

  • Maintain written documentation that supports the parent’s agreement to refer or the parent’s request that a referral not be made;
  • Explain the early intervention services which would be available if the referral were made and the consequences of not accessing those services through the referral process, and state that referral does not commit the parent to participate in the early intervention system
    (parent consent is required for evaluation and assessment); and
  • Maintain follow-up contacts with those families who initially request a referral not be made.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for early intervention services through the NJEIS, a child must meet the criteria in at least one of the following two categories:

Developmental Delay: Must be measured with the NJEIS designated standard evaluation tool, appropriate
diagnostic instruments and procedures, including clinical opinion in all of the following areas of development: Physical (gross motor, fine motor, vision and hearing); Cognition; Communication; Social or emotional; and Adaptive. To be eligible, a child must demonstrate
measured delays in development of at least 2.0 standard deviations below the mean in one developmental area; or 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two or more of the developmental areas.

Conditions with High Probability: This category of eligibility includes children who have identified conditions but who may not
be exhibiting delays in development at the time of eligibility. Children are eligible who have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in
developmental delay. The high probability diagnosis must be confirmed in a signed statement or report from a physician; advanced practice nurse; or licensed clinical
psychologist in the child’s record including a statement that the diagnosed condition for the child has a high probability of developmental delay.

What is an Evaluation?

An evaluation is the process of gathering information about the child to see how he or she is developing and is used to determine eligibility for early intervention services. The evaluation is conducted by qualified professionals, in conjunction with the family, and provides information in
several developmental areas such as communicating, feeding, behavior, walking/movement, vision, and hearing. The evaluation also assists in defining the types and levels of services needed by the child and family. Written parent consent is needed before the evaluation can begin.

What is an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)?

The IFSP is both a plan and a process. The plan is a written document that identifies the outcomes, services and supports needed for the child and family.
The process is ongoing services and assessment to gather, share, and exchange information between the family and the early intervention practitioners to help parents make informed choices about early intervention services and other needed services for the child and family.

Following the evaluation and assessment process, the IFSP is developed at a meeting with the family, the service coordinator, at least one member of the evaluation team, and anyone else the family wishes to include. In order for the child to receive services, the parent must consent
to the IFSP and can withdraw their consent at any time. Parents can also say no to some services and still get the services that they agree to and feel they need the most. The plan is reviewed every six months, or more frequently as appropriate, to make sure it continues to meet the needs of the child and family. At least once a year, parents must participate in a developmental evaluation and annual IFSP meeting to review their child’s outcomes and IFSP services for any changes needed. The meeting will be held at a time and location that is convenient to the family and in the language or other mode of communication used by the parent if not proficient in English and if it is feasible to do so.

What is contained in the IFSP?

Every IFSP will have a statement about the child’s functioning levels of development based on the evaluation and assessment. This includes areas of sight, hearing, health, thinking skills, selfhelp skills, ability for expression, social or emotional growth, and movement. Based on parents’ priorities, concerns, resources, and desired outcomes for their child and family, the needed services will be documented. The frequency, location, and duration of these services and exactly how the costs will be covered will also be included. Written parent consent is necessary before any services can be provided.
Other services that are not required to be provided or paid through the early intervention system may also be noted in the IFSP. The service coordinator, also identified in the IFSP, will help find resources to meet those needs

What are the Costs of Services?

Federal law requires that specific services be provided to eligible children and families at public expense. These include:

  •  Child find/referral
  • Evaluation/assessment
  • Service coordination
  • IFSP development and review
  • Procedural safeguards (family rights)

Beyond these required services, a family may have to assume some or all of the costs, depending on the resources available and the parents’ ability to pay. Medicaid or private insurance can be designated payers. The payment for some services may be based on a sliding fee scale that determines the cost by a family’s income and size.

What is "Transitioning"?

An important part of early intervention services is assisting children and families to leave early intervention at the correct time and in the most helpful way possible. This process is called transition. When a child is two years old, transition information will be offered to the parents to begin planning for services and supports that might be needed when the child turns three. As a
child approaches three years of age, the service coordinator will help with transition from early intervention to a preschool program and/or other support services that the child and family may need.

What are Family Rights?

Early intervention law provides family rights that guarantee early intervention services are provided in a voluntary, nondiscriminatory manner. They assure that families understand the early intervention system and what is being offered to them and their child. Family rights include:

  • The right to consent to evaluation and assessment;
  • The right to be involved with the decisions made concerning their child;
  • The right to have all information explained to them in their primary language or other mode of communication if the parent is not proficient in English and if it is feasible to do so;
  • The right to an initial meeting to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) within
    45 days of the date the parent consents for the referral if the child is found eligible for the NJEIS;
  • The right to be informed before any meetings are held or any changes are made to the IFSP;
  • The right to consent to the IFSP;
  • The right to say no to some services and to choose only the services wanted;
  • The right to the early intervention services identified as needed on the IFSP;
  • The right to referral, evaluation and assessment, IFSP development and review, service coordination, and protection of family rights at no cost.
  • The right to have all information about the child kept confidential;
  • The right to review the child and family’s early intervention record at any time; and
  • The right to dispute resolution procedures to settle any disagreement over the services related to the child and the family.

What is Dispute Resolution?

If parents have a concern that cannot be resolved in discussions with the child’s Early Intervention Program (EIP) provider agency, early intervention practitioners and service coordinator, parents have the right to use dispute resolution procedures to work out their concerns. The service coordinator is responsible to give parents information about these procedures at the time of referral. Dispute resolution procedures include Complaint Investigation, Mediation and Administrative Due Process Hearing.

More information on family rights or how to file a complaint is available HERE

Or by contacting the:
NJEIS Procedural Safeguards Office
New Jersey Department of Health
P.O. Box 364
Trenton, NJ 08625-0364
Toll free: (877) 258-6585
Fax: (609) 292-0296