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About Early Intervention

Early Intervention (EI) in Massachusetts is a statewide, family-centered, developmental service. Thom Child & Family Services offers the earliest possible intervention and support for children birth to three years old who have developmental difficulties due to identified disabilities or whose development is at risk due to certain birth or environmental circumstances.

Who is Eligible for Early Intervention?

Children up to three years of age and their families may be eligible for early intervention if the child:
Children who live in families that are experiencing social or environmental stress that may affect the child's development also may be eligible for early intervention services.

Thom Child & Family Services
has compiled a Developmental Checklist to help families evaluate their child's attempts to master first skills. If you are concerned that a child you know may be experiencing a developmental delay, contact the Thom Child & Family Services Early Intervention Program nearest you. If there is no Thom Early Intervention program in your area, visit www.massfamilyties.org for a listing of certified EI programs serving your city or town.

What Services Do We Provide?

Screening serves as a way of uncovering developmental delays or problems and determining probable eligibility for early intervention. The EI program may perform a screening, using a developmental screening tool when referral information is not specific enough to indicate probable eligibility. Screening does not determine eligibility for early intervention services. Eligibility is established through further testing called Evaluation and Assessment.

Evaluation and Assessment
- The first step in establishing a child's eligibility for Early Intervention services is the eligibility evaluation. The purpose of this evaluation is to understand the child's unique strengths and needs; assess the nature of a child's developmental problem(s); and to identify the resources, priorities, concerns and desired outcomes of the child's family. Eligibility evaluation to determine a child's eligibility for early intervention services must be done by a Massachusetts Department of Public Health certified Early Intervention Program. It must include an assessment of the child's functioning in the following areas of development:
Service coordination is the process of working with a family or individual to help them get needed services and coordinate among different service providers. In early intervention, the service coordinator is the primary contact between a family, additional early intervention professionals, and other community services or agencies. The service coordinator provides ongoing support for the child and family, helps plan and organize assessments, and works with the family to make sure that early intervention services are meeting their needs.

Resources, Referral, Information, and Consultation Services
include but are not limited to assisting families to access information about childcare, education and other public benefits or services that may be available to their child/family. Resource services may include helping families access current information about diagnoses or therapeutic techniques.  Referral services can help to connect families with similar interests or needs, or with specialty care providers. Early intervention staff may also provide consultation and technical assistance to other community service providers.

Home Visits always include a face-to-face meeting with an enrolled child and/or the child’s parent(s). The visit may be at the child’s home, a childcare setting, or somewhere else in the community e.g. the playground, grocery store, library, etc. Visits may also be held at the early intervention program site, in which case they are called center-based visits. The primary purpose of early intervention home visits is to help the child make progress in his/her development.

Infant/Toddler Play Groups
Parent Education and Support Groups are based upon the interests and needs of participating early intervention families. Some groups, which have a specific topic focus, are time-limited. Other groups, which focus more on parent-to-parent networking and support, may be ongoing. The early intervention program may also organize time-limited groups for other members of an enrolled child’s family, including brothers and sisters, when families indicate interest.

Who Pays for Early Intervention?

Early intervention is a State and Federally mandated service paid for by the MA Department of Public Health (DPH), Medicaid, MA Health Insurance and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). There are no out-of-pocket costs to families for early intervention services.  

A Little More About Early Intervention Services…

Thom Child & Family Services or your local Early Intervention Program will:
An  Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) will be developed for eligible children which is based on the individual needs of each child and family. These service plans are completed within 45 days of referral.

Early intervention serves children and families within the context of everyday routines, activities and environments which both support the child's individual needs and are meaningful and relevant to the family's life. Sometimes the term "natural environments" is used to describe these everyday places and activities. Places where early intervention services are provided include family homes, community play groups, childcare centers, playgrounds and libraries.  Everyday routines might include meal time, playtime, going to the playground and spending time with other children at a playgroup.

How Can I Learn More About Early Intervention Services for Children and Families?

To learn more about early intervention services, contact the Thom Child & Services EI Program nearest you.
If there is no Thom program in your area, visit www.massfamilyties.org for a listing of certified EI programs serving your city or town.