Your child may be beginning to walk and even talk between twelve and twenty-four months. All children grow at their own rate. But if you have concerns, it is better to speak up. There are many options available to you.
Right to Evaluation
You know your child better than anyone else. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you can request a free evaluation. It is a free, public service, available to any family. You do not need a referral from your doctor.
Your child’s age will determine which organization will provide the evaluation. You will not be turned away if your family cannot afford to pay for services. If your child qualifies for additional services, the evaluation staff will walk you through the options that are available. Even if your child does not qualify for services, most families find that the appointment is informative, reassuring, or useful in finding other resources. To get connected to the right agency for your child’s age and location, call the Help Me Grow Washington Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
My Child is Age Zero to Three
This is a public service, available to any family when there are concerns about a child’s development. Your family’s right to this service is protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA (specifically in Part C). If you need a translator or transportation to the evaluation you are also entitled to those services.
In Washington State, this system of services is called Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT). Some people call it “birth to three services,” “early intervention,” or “Part C services” (after the part of the law that mandates it).
- Your county has a lead agency who will process your referral and schedule an evaluation.
- If your family is eligible, a family resource coordinator (FRC) will be assigned to you. They arrange services and monitor progress, free of charge. They are your partner in this journey, and can also explore community resources with you.
- Usually, therapeutic services will be delivered in your home. They can also be delivered in a childcare setting or other place that is familiar for your child.
- Services can be billed to your family’s insurance or offered on a sliding scale. If your family is unable to pay for services, don’t worry. You will never be denied these services because you cannot pay for them.
- How long does this take? Within 45 calendar days, you will have the evaluation and learn whether your child is eligible for services.
- How old does my child need to be to get an evaluation? Professionals can assess newborns, if parents have concerns.
- What if I am on waiting list for an autism evaluation? Those waiting lists can be long. Get an ESIT evaluation and services while you wait! By law, the ESIT system must evaluate kids quickly and begin services right away, if they are eligible. They do not need a diagnosis to begin helping you and your child. An autism evaluation could still be helpful; your ESIT provider can advise you on whether that next evaluation is needed.
My Child is Three or Older
- If your child is 3 or older, evaluation is offered through their school district. Some people call it “Child Find” or “Special Education.” These services will be free to your child, but you must request them from the school.
- From the time of request, the school legally has 25 school days to decide whether to evaluate a child. If they decide to assess the child, the school has 35 school days to complete the evaluation (60 school days total). Put your request in writing so that you have record of when you started the process.
- If your child is eligible, you’ll meet with the evaluation team and discuss what services are available. This will inform an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, which everyone will sign.
- The services offered through the school are free to your family and are provided during the school day.
- Summer time – some school districts do not have staff to answer the phone during the summer break. We recommend you still call and leave a message and/or submit a written request, so they can contact you when they return.
My Child Already has a Diagnosed Delay
If your child has been diagnosed with a delay, there is a lot of support available for you and your family. Learn more here.