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What is Early Intervention?

Early Intervention means providing child and family services for children between birth and kindergarten age who have or are at risk of having a disability or other special needs that may affect their development, health, or education.


What are Early Intervention services?

Early Intervention Services are established through both federal and state statutes and focus on two age groups of children with special needs.


  The Infant-Toddler Program (named "Together We Grow" in NC) Preschool Program Services
Age Served For children from birth to 3 years of age For children ages 3, 4, and 5 years old, who are not old enough for kindergarten
Focus of Service The developmental needs of the child, involving the family Primarily on the educational needs of a child
Example of Services Multidisciplinary evaluation, nutrition services, audiology/hearing, service coordination, parent training and information, psychological services, respite care, social work, occupational/physical/speech therapy services, special education/instruction Preschool services do not include respite care, nursing, nutrition or child service coordination-however, preschool services do include recreation and therapeutic recreation


Why is Early Intervention important?

More than 20 years of research has demonstrated conclusively that early intervention reaps immediate and long-term benefits for children with disabilities, their families, and society. Research shows the first three years are a critically important time for learning in a child's life. Starting services early improves a child's ability to develop and learn.


Who qualifies for these services?

There are legal eligibility criteria children must meet in order to receive services.


How can I find out if my child is eligible for Early Intervention services?

If you or a family member, doctor, or other care provider feels that a child under three (Birth to 3) qualifies under one of the two broad categories of Developmental Delay or Established Conditions, referral can be made to the local Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) in your community. For additional information, contact the NC Early Intervention Branch at 919.707.5520 or visit www.ncei.org


If a child is three years of age or older, contact your local school district.


Where are services located?

Services can be delivered in child care centers, family child care homes, church programs, Head Start programs, Developmental Day Centers, as well as at home through service providers visiting a child's home or other natural environments (where children without special needs participate).


How are services delivered?

Services are generally delivered to children in two ways:

  • Directly to the child by a special education teacher, early interventionist or other specialist
  • Indirectly to the child through consultation with the child's family and if needed, to the child's service providers (teachers, child care staff, therapist)
Are there costs for these services?

Many services are free of cost, however some therapeutic service costs are on sliding scale fees based on the parent's income and ability to pay.



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