Early Intervention Program FAQs
If you think that your infant or toddler is not growing or developing as he or she should you may contact your pediatrician, primary health care provider or your county-based Special Child Health Service (SCHS) Case Management Unit. Families or professionals who are interested in referring a child with special needs for early intervention services in New Jersey should refer directly to the Department of Health and Senior Services, Special Child Health Services, County Case Management Unit in the family’s county of residence.
The Case Management Unit is the doorway into the early intervention system in New Jersey. A service coordinator will talk with you about your concerns. If a developmental evaluation is indicated, the service coordinator will work with you to schedule a multi-disciplinary evaluation of your child’s developmental levels and needs. These services are at no cost to you.
An evaluation is the process of gathering information about your child to see how he or she is developing. The evaluation is given to your child by qualified professionals and provides information in several developmental areas such as talking, feeding, behavior, walking/movement, vision and hearing. You will also be asked to provide written consent to request records from people who have information about your child. This information is used to determine your child’s strengths and needs. Your written consent is needed before an evaluation is done.
HOW CAN YOU PREPARE FOR THE EVALUATION?
During the evaluation you and your child will be working with a team of individuals from many different professions who want to learn about your child’s needs. You have a right to ask questions and to know the results of the evaluation. To help you prepare for the evaluation you may wish to bring the following:
- important questions
- Information on your child’s developmental progress
- Baby history book
- Medical reports
- Prior evaluation reports
Overall, the evaluation serves in determining eligibility for early intervention services and in determining the types and levels of services needed by your child.
WHAT IS EARLY INTERVENTION AND THE MISSION OF NEW JERSEY EARLY INTERVENTION SYSTEM?
The mission of the New Jersey Early Intervention System is to enhance the capacity of families to meet the developmental and health related needs of children birth to age three who have delays or disabilities by providing quality services and support to families and their children. Families from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds will be involved indecision making at every level of the design, implementation, and evaluation f the Early Intervention System. The system will:
- Promote collaborative partnerships among the family; their community, service and health care providers; schools; and child care settings that strengthen and enhance family competence to develop and use lasting networks of natural support.
- Provide a family centered approach, which will be based upon the uniqueness of the family and its culture.
- Promote prompt service and support delivery in settings most natural and comfortable for the child and family that foster opportunities for the development of peer relationships with children without disabilities.
- Reflect the current best practices in the field of early intervention in order to ensure uniformity of service delivery standards and yield the most positive outcomes for the child and family.
- Recognize and respect the knowledge, beliefs, aspirations, values, culture and preference of families and utilize these for the planning and delivery of supports and services.
- Facilitate ongoing, system wide, participatory evaluation to ensure and effective and efficient Early Intervention System.
WHAT ARE EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES?
Early intervention services are designed to address a problem or delay in development as early as possible. The services are available for infants and toddlers up to age three. Public and private agencies serve as providers to address the needs of children and their families who meet the eligibility criteria established by the State. If the criteria for eligibility has been met based upon the evaluation, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed. If the criteria for eligibility has not been met a referral to other community resources may take place.
WHAT IS AN INDIVIDUALIZED FAMILY SERVICE PLAN (IFSP)?
The individualized family service plan is both a plan and a process. The plan is a written document, which identifies services and supports needed by your child and family. The process is an on-going gathering, sharing and exchange of information between your family and the early intervention professionals to help you make informed choices about the early intervention services and other needed services for your child and family.
Following the evaluation and assessment process, the Individualized Family Service Plan is written at a meeting with the family, the service coordinator, at least one member of the evaluation team. It is based on the information collected from the family, as well as from the evaluation. The Individualizes Family Service Plan is a road map for you and for those who work with you and your child. In order for your child to receive services, you must agree to the plan in writing. You may refuse or withdraw your consent at anytime. You can also say no to some services and still get those services you feel you need. The plan is reviewed every six months, or more frequently if you choose, to make sure it continues to meet the needs of your child and family. At least once a year, you will participate in meeting to review your child’s outcomes and Individualized Family Service Plan for nay changes.
WHAT IS CONTAINED IN THE INDIVIDUALIZED FAMILY SERVICE PLAN?
Every Individualized Family Service Plan will have a statement about your child’s functioning levels of development based on the evaluation. This includes areas of sight, hearing, health, thinking skills, self-help skills, ability for expression, social or emotional growth, and movement. Based on your priorities, concerns and desired outcomes for your child and family, the services needed will be documented. The frequency, location, provider and duration of the services, and how the costs will be covered will also be included. Your written consent is necessary before any services can be provided. Services not required to be provided through the early intervention system will also be noted.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE THESE SERVICES?
AssessmentProcedures to identify the child’s strengths and developmental needs, as well as the family’s concerns, priorities and resources. An assessment is an on-going collection of information about your child and family. The assessment will be used throughout the time your child and family receive services to make sure you are getting the kind of help you need. The assessments are documented on the Individualized Family Service Plan.
Assistive Technology-Provision of equipment, including adaptive assistive devices, which have been designed or altered for special use by a child with developmental delays or disabilities.
Audiology Services-Testing of the child’s hearing and referral for further services, as needed.
Family Training and CounselingGuidance for the family, such as help from trained personnel in understanding the special needs of the child and enhancing the child’s development.
Health servicesAssistance to enable a child to benefit from other early intervention services, including: clean intermittent catheterization, tracheotomy care, tube feeding, the changing of dressings or ostomy collection bags, and consultation with service providers concerning special health care needs.
Medical ServicesDiagnostic or evaluation services by a licensed physician to determine a child’s developmental status and the need for early intervention services. The early intervention system does not pay for other medical services.
Nursing ServicesAssistance to enable a child to benefit from other early intervention services, including: health status assessments, nursing care to prevent health problems or to improve functioning.
NutritionIndividual assessment, development and monitoring of plans to address the child’s nutritional needs.
Occupational TherapyServices to assist children to learn skills needed for play and daily living. Design and provide assistive devices.
Physical TherapyServices to identify and help prevent or reduce movement problems
Psychological ServicesAssessment and psychological counseling for children, parents and family. Consultation on child development, child behavior, parent training, and educational services.
Service CoordinationAssistance obtaining the services needed by the child and family, providing information about early intervention services, and finding other needed resources in the community.
Social Work ServicesAssessment of the child in the home and family environment. Individual and family group counseling and social-skill building activities
Special InstructionAssisting children to develop learning skills
Speech/Language PathologyIdentification, referral, and provision of services to assist children to respond and understand communization
Transportation-Transportation services that are necessary to enable a child and family to receive early intervention services
Vision ServicesEvaluation and assessment of vision; referral for medical or other professional services necessary fort he habilitation or rehabilitation of visual functions, communication skills training, orientation and ability training, visual training, independent living skills training and additional training necessary to activate visual motor abilities.
An important part of early intervention services is assisting children and families to leave the program at the correct time and in the most helpful way possible. This process is called transition. When your child is two years old, discussions will be held with you, your service coordinator and others who have worked with you to begin planning for services and supports that might be needed. As in other meetings about your child’s needs and progress, it is essential that you are part of the planning. When your child approaches three years of age, your service coordinator will help you transition from early intervention to a pre-school program and/or to other support services your child and family may need.