Children ages 0 to 3

children birth age 3Your child may not roll over, walk or talk at the same time as another child who is the same age. If you have concerns about your child’s development, there are resources that can help.

Birth to 3 Years Old

The Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program, within the Department of Early Learning (DEL), coordinates a statewide system to help families get needed services for children ages birth to 3 years old who have disabilities and/or developmental delays.

The Department of Health’s Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Program funds a statewide system of public health nurses who can help families with concerns about their children’s medical or health conditions.

You may also want to learn more about eligibility with the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA). The Informing Families Network has more information, and you can also call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

What is Early Intervention?

Early intervention is a collection of services families may need for their infants and toddlers with disabilities and/or developmental delays. Looking for and diagnosing developmental problems during the first few years of life can make a big difference in your child’s future. Early intervention can help you:

  • Determine if your child has a delay
  • Understand your child's developmental growth
  • Find the services you need for your child

What can I do if I have questions about my child's development?

Talk with your child’s health care provider about your concerns. They can provide a developmental screening or suggest other resources. However, if you do not feel comfortable talking with your child’s doctor, or if you feel you need additional information after you have talked with your doctor and still have concerns, you can contact your county’s Family Resources Coordinator (FRC). You do not need a referral from your doctor to contact an FRC. An FRC can help your family get the early intervention services your child may need, including a developmental screening and evaluation. To find your county’s FRC, call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

Use our Resource Finder to find a Family Resources Coordinator near you.

What is Developmental Screening?

A developmental screening is a quick look at how your child is learning and growing. Screenings are done by people trained to determine how your child is developing. If there are concerns about your child’s development, your FRC can let you know how to get a more in-depth evaluation.
The evaluation will look at specific areas of your child’s development to determine if your child is eligible for early intervention services. The evaluation will occur only with your written permission and at no cost to you. Areas of development that are evaluated:

  • Cognitive: ability to learn
  • Physical: ability to move, see and hear
  • Communication: ability to understand languages and express needs
  • Social or emotional: ability to relate with others
  • Adaptive skills: ability to dress, eat and take care of yourself

Tips for Evaluation Planning

  • Ask your FRC for help
  • Bring any questions or concerns you might have about your child's development
  • Share all information that you think is important: medical records, a baby book, growth chart, or other reports
  • Decide what times and locations would work best for you and your family
  • Invite other family members, a friend, or support person if you wish
  • Inform your FRC if you need an interpreter or other assistance

After the evaluation, you and other members of the evaluation team will talk about your child's development and identify any concerns. If there are other areas of delay, your child may be eligible for early intervention services. You may choose to accept all of the services offered, or you may choose to accept some or none of them.

Who is eligible for early intervention services?

To be eligible, a child must have a 25% delay or show a 1.5 standard deviation below her age in one or more of the developmental areas. A child may also be eligible if he has a physical or mental condition, such as Down’s Syndrome, that is known to cause a delay in development.

Early Intervention Services Your Child May Need, if eligible

Ongoing assessments of your child’s strengths and needs will also be done. These assessments are used to make sure your child is getting the kind of help needed while receiving services. These services may include:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Special instruction
  • Speech therapy

What Happens at Age Three?

About six months before your child turns three years old, your FRC will help you plan for the next provider or agency that will provide services for your child. This can change where and how services are provided. Your FRC will help you develop a transition plan. This plan will identify special education or community-based services your child may need. As she gets older, your child can continue to receive services through the Children with Special Healthcare Needs (CSHCN) Program and your local school district. The CSHCN and school district will decide future eligibility for programs and services.