In New York, children under three years of age who have developmental delays may be eligible for early-intervention services through a program run by the department of health. I asked Barb Klein, director of parent training and information at The Advocacy Center in Rochester, to give us a quick overview of early intervention in New York and suggest some things parents can do to get started.
Who should a parent contact to ask about early-intervention services?Early Intervention in NY State falls under the Department of Health (DOH) within each county, so families would contact the Early Intervention Bureau at the DOH in the county where they live. A municipal Early Intervention Official (EIO) designated by the chief elected official of the municipality/county administers the Early Intervention Program locally. Contact your EIO for information about your local program or to refer a child. For information about the statewide program, contact the NYS Department of Health, Bureau of Early Intervention, at (518) 473-7016 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also Early Childhood Direction Centers (ECDC) located across the state that provide information and support to families about Early Intervention.
What does early intervention look like in New York?A child is referred to EI by a parent, person working with the child, or the child’s pediatrician. Once the child is referred to the EIO, the child is given an initial service coordinator who is your key to early-intervention services. To be eligible for services, children must be under three years of age and have a confirmed disability or established developmental delay, as defined by the state, in one or more of the following areas of development: physical, cognitive, communication, social-emotional, and/or adaptive. The Early Intervention Program offers a variety of therapeutic and support services to eligible infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families; services will be determined based upon your individual child’s needs and are often provided in the family’s home. [Download "The Early Intervention Program: A Parent's Guide"]
Do you have any advice for parents about early-intervention services?Parents should access services as early as possible; know that they have resources available; and reach out to the Early Childhood Direction Center or Parent Center in their region for support.
How does the transition between early intervention and special education work?If your three-year-old child received services from the Early Intervention Program and is in need of special-education services, he or she will need to transition (move) from the Early Intervention Program into the preschool special-education program. The Early Intervention official from your county must give written notice to the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) in your local school district that your child may be transitioning from the Early Intervention Program. With your consent, a transition plan must be developed no later than three months before your child's third birthday. If your child has been determined eligible to receive Preschool Special Education Services, you can choose to begin Preschool on or before your child’s third birthday. The CPSE will work with you to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child.
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About The Advocacy Center: The Advocacy Center provides a number of services for individuals with disabilities and their families. We provide workshops and resources about the special-education process and disabilities. We facilitate parent-school collaboration by providing parents of children with disabilities with information and skill-building opportunities. The Advocacy Center supports families with Service Coordination and other advocacy support to access services and entitlements. The Advocacy Center has two websites: www.advocacycenter.com and www.specialedparentcenter.org. Both sites have a calendar of events, a list of available workshops, and archived newsletters -– these are great places to get started. www.specialedparentcenter.org is in both English and Spanish, has many resources available, and provides guidance for both parents and professionals. There is information about special education, an extensive list of online resources, and sample letters for parents to use.