Accessing Early Intervention Services

  1. What is the Early Intervention Program?

    Early Intervention is a free program that provides services to children birth to age three who have developmental delays or disabilities. In New York City the program is run by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Some of the services offered are:
    • special instruction
    • speech and language therapy
    • physical therapy
    • occupational therapy
    • feeding and nutrition services
    • family training
    • social work services
    • vision therapy
    • hearing impaired services
    • nursing care

  2. How Do You Make a Referral to Early Intervention?

    Anyone can refer a child to Early Intervention by calling 311 and asking for Early Intervention in the borough where the child lives. The caller will need to provide basic information about the child, such as the child’s date of birth and the name and address of the child’s caretaker.

  3. What Happens When a Child is Referred to Early Intervention?

    A service coordinator (SC) will be assigned to the case. The SC will contact the family to get consent and to set up appointments for evaluations. If the evaluations show that the child needs services, the SC will hold a meeting to write an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The IFSP is a written plan describing the services the child will receive. It should include such information as who will provide the services, when, where, and how often. If a child is found eligible, services must start within 45 days from the date the referral was made.

  4. Who Is Eligible to Receive Early Intervention Services?

    Children are eligible for Early Intervention if:
    • they are between birth and 3 years of age; and
    • they have a disability OR a developmental delay
    • a DISABILITY is a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a delay, such as autism, Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy, vision or hearing impairment
    • a DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY is defined as a 12-month delay in one functional area; a 33% delay in one functional area or a 25% delay in two functional areas; or a score of 2.0 standard deviations below the mean in one functional area or a score of 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two functional areas. Functional areas include gross motor, fine motor, communication, social-emotional, cognitive or adaptive development. The child’s evaluations will state the percentage of delay.

  5. Who Can Consent for Early Intervention Evaluations and Services?

    In most cases, the child’s parent or guardian is the only person who can sign consent for Early Intervention evaluations and services. If the child is in foster care and the parents are “unavailable” after reasonable efforts have been made to facilitate their participation in the Early Intervention process, then a surrogate parent (usually the foster parent) must be assigned to the child, and the surrogate parent may sign consent. The parents may agree to appoint someone else to make decisions about their child’s Early Intervention services. The law prohibits foster care agencies and foster care caseworkers from signing consent for Early Intervention evaluations or services.

  6. What Should I Do If the Child is Found Ineligible?

    If a child is found ineligible but you still have concerns, you can re-refer the child for a new evaluation after 3-4 months. You might also be able to get certain services through Medicaid or private insurance.

  7. What Should I Do If a Child is Not Receiving the Services on the IFSP?

    If a child is not receiving services on his or her IFSP, contact the service coordinator (SC). If the SC does not fix the problem, contact the borough director for assistance:
    • BROOKLYN: Glenda Carmichael (718) 722-3310
    • BRONX: Alicia Calev (718) 410-4110
    • MANHATTAN: Jeannette Gong (212) 487-3920
    • QUEENS: Agatha Guadagno (718) 271-1003
    • STATEN ISLAND: Catherine Ayala (718) 420-5350
    If the borough director is unable to fix the problem, you may file a system complaint or request mediation or an impartial hearing. Click here for information about how to file a complaint or request a mediation or an impartial hearing.

  8. Who Can I Ask for Help?

    Contact the Early Childhood Direction Center in your borough by phone or email:

(January 12, 2011)