How do I get early intervention for my child

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How to request the Initial Evaluation.

Due to the importance and success of early services it is important to ask for and get evaluations as soon as you think your child may have some developmental delay.   You don't have to wait until someone suggests that your child be screened.   If you are concerned about your child's developmental progress, get in touch with the evaluating agency directly.   Such screenings cost you nothing.

Quite often it will be your child's pediatrician who will make the referral for an evaluation.   You can also contact the New York City Infant Child Health Assessment Program, or call an Early Intervention Evaluator.   It is best to make or confirm you requests in writing and to SAVE EVERYTHING!

Insist that evaluations be done in each area where you think your child is having a problem.   Don't just have your child evaluated on the biggest problem area, insist on evaluations for all problem areas.   If they find that there is no delay in a particular area it will give you peace of mind.

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What to do if they won't give your child an initial evaluation.

If the agency refuses to do an evaluation or you disagree with the results of the evaluation you have two choices:

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Criteria for Acceptance to Early Intervention.

Your child must have at least a 33% delay in one of the following areas or 25% delay in two of the following areas to qualify for Early Intervention services.   Certain medical conditions such as Trisomy 21, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy and sensory impairments and specific birth conditions such as low birth weight (under 3.3lbs) and premature birth (less than 33 weeks) have a high probability of resulting in developmental delay.   If the child doesn't qualify by the above criteria, Early Intervention can still provide periodic monitoring for the future through Child Find.

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Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP).

An "Individual Family Service Plan" (IFSP) is developed as a result of the family meeting of the New York City Infant Child Health Assessment Program.   The parents, the persons who did the evaluations and anyone else who you think is important for determining the proper classification and services for your child should be present.

The IFSP is the document that will spell out exactly what the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene must provide.   Anything not on this plan will not be required of the City.

Because of how important this plan is to your child, don't let the people at the meeting convince to accept less services than you think your child needs.   Make your wishes known.   You have a right to bring someone with you to the meeting.   If you are afraid that you will not speak up at the meeting, bring a family member or friend who will speak up for you.

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What type of services should I request?

Below is a list of what services are available: Ask for every service you believe will help your child.   Before going to the meeting, write down each service you want to ask for so that you don't forget any or get caught up only in the most important services or the ones which the City wants to discuss..

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Beginning in the school year that your child is turning 3 years old, the Early Intervention case manager will set up a meeting with your child's Committee on Pre-school Special Education (CPSE) at your local school or district to discuss your child's transition from Early Intervention to the 3-5 year old preschool program.   If you don't already know what district you're in, you can find it by using your address at NYC Dept. of Education website.

The local school or district will set the date for the Committee on Pre-School Special Education (CPSE) meeting.   They will then set a timetable for all the necessary evaluations so that they can be completed in time for the Committee to properly evaluate what services and programs are needed for your child.

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Using Child Find.

Each State must operate comprehensive systems of child find in order to identify, locate and evaluate children with disabilities in need of special education and related services.   This is called "Child Find". You should note that the word "Find" is important. It means that the government not only has to service a child in need of servies, but they must have programs to find children in need of these services.   Before children are old enough to attend public school it's not uncommon for a babysitter, daycare provider, or preschool staff to express concern to you about developmental or learning delays. They may suggest that you contact the appropriate agency to have your child screened to determine whether your child should be referred for a full evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services.   Child Find has an excellent website that gives you lots of information about every step of getting your child needed services.