Early Intervention

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

Early Intervention provides services to infants and toddlers (birth to three years old) who exhibit delays in cognitive, motor, language, behavioral and other areas of development or who are considered at risk for developmental delays. The program provides developmental evaluations and assessments to determine each child and family's needs and coordinates services based on those needs.

Children from birth to age three are eligible for the Early Intervention program if they have a medical condition that can be expected to result in developmental delays, if they exhibit delays in areas of development measured by standard benchmarks, or if there are child or family risk factors, such as very low birth weight or parent chronic illness. Once a child is deemed eligible, the child receives an Individualized Family Service Plan that is developed coordinated by a team including family and providers.

Early intervention services are provided by more than 60 programs that serve specific geographic areas across the state. The program emphasizes family involvement and provision of services in a "natural environment", such as the home or a child care center. Some services are free; other services may be covered by MassHealth or a family's private insurance, if a family consents. The Mass. Dept. of Public Health pays for all early intervention costs not covered by insurance.

Because early intervention is a federal program and federal law requires states to assess children for developmental delays and identify services necessary to meet their needs, Massachusetts receives federal grants to cover a portion of the costs of the program. The Department of Public Health is responsible for administering the program and is advised by the Massachusetts Interagency Coordinating Council, made up of parents, providers, and state agency representatives.

When looking at historical funding for early intervention, take note that some costs have shifted into the MassHealth budget.

Updated, December 2016

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