In terms of development and learning, the first five years of a child’s life are a critical period. Children with developmental delays or disorders face academic, social and communication challenges. But, providing a child with appropriate services as early as possible can help him or her overcome skill deficits and meet developmental milestones that are on target for his or her age level. By being aware of the signs that a child could need extra help, parents and educators can make a significant impact on that child’s future achievements. Read more about the benefits of getting your baby or toddler the social and behavior skills services that he or she needs in Tackling Social and Behavior Skills Sooner Than Later.
Parents who suspect that a child has special needs can request an evaluation at any time under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or they can choose to bring a child to a private clinician for an evaluation. However, childcare workers and educators also play a key role in identifying children who might need services, and this effort is structured by the Child Find program. In Early Identification: How The Child Find Program Works, you’ll learn how the Child Find program functions and read about its key elements, from defining the target population to following up with children who are receiving services.
Early intervention (EI) is mandated by part C of IDEA, and it provides services for eligible children from birth to their third birthdays. In The Steps In Early Intervention (IDEA Part C), you’ll learn more about the process of obtaining EI services for a child. For example, children who are referred for an evaluation will undergo a series of child-friendly assessments. This article also covers the basics of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which maps out the services that a child will receive. It’s important to note that most states use the term “early intervention” as it’s used in IDEA, but not all do. Some states use the term “early childhood education”; if you use the term “early intervention” and it is not recognized then speak in terms of early childhood special education or like terms.
The whole family should get involved in the development of the IFSP, along with a team of professionals. EI takes a family-based approach, and the IFSP is intended to support the entire family. In The Who, What, Why Of An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), you’ll delve into the details of the process of developing this important document, and you’ll also get some helpful tips on staying organized throughout the process. Curious about what happens after your child reaches his or her third birthday? This article explains that, too! In addition, The Role of the Parent in Early Intervention goes into detail about how to become an effective advocate for your baby or toddler; this article covers basic legal rights, where to look for help and support and how you can participate in your child’s IFSP and services.