Guide for the Early Intervention Program (Part C: Infant Services)

Posted 7/19/07

Overview

The Early Intervention Program is a federally funded family-centered program for infants and toddlers (birth to thirty-six months) with developmental delays, or who are at risk for developmental delays. The intent of the program is to develop and implement a comprehensive, coordinated, interagency system of early intervention services. In Contra Costa County, the program is operated under an agreement between the Regional Center of the East Bay and the Contra Costa SELPA.
Service Coordination and Interagency Agreements

Under Part C, participating LEAs would be responsible for providing and/or coordinating the provision of early intervention to infants and toddlers and their families. The LEAs are mandated to serve all children who have a low incidence condition as their sole handicapping condition. LEAs may also serve children with other developmental delays (not low incidence) up to the level of their funded capacity, provided those children meet special education eligibility. Children with other developmental delays would be referred to the Regional Center of the East Bay for service, once the LEA has reached its funded capacity.

Referrals

Referrals to the Early Start Program may be made by parents, health providers or the Regional Center. Within two days of receiving notice of a new referral, the service coordinator will contact the parent to begin the intake process. With parent permission, the referral information is shared between the Regional Center and the SELPA Early Start systems to allow collaboration and avoid duplication of services.

Eligibility Criteria

An infant or toddler shall be eligible for intervention services from birth to 36 months of age if he/she meets one of the following criteria as determined by means of evaluation:
Developmental delay or a significant difference between current level of functioning and the expected level of development for his/her chronological age. These infants may be served by the LEAs if they also meet special education criteria under section 4030 of the California Education Code.

Established risk or a high probability of becoming developmentally delayed possibly from having a history of developmental disabilities in their families. These infants will be served by Regional Center Programs.
High risk for developmental disability or a history of a combination of factors that usually lead to a developmental delay. These infants will be served by Regional Center programs.


Evaluation and Assessment

The determination of eligibility shall be made by a multidisciplinary team of appropriately qualified personnel from the regional center or LEA with participation of the parent.
Evaluation and initial assessments of each infant or toddler shall be completed within 45 days of the Regional Center's or LEA's receipt of the referral. If eligibility is determined for the child but assessment are not completed within the 45 day timeline, in addition to the above procedures, the Regional Center or LEA must develop and implement an interim IFSP.

The evaluation consists of two phases: The determination of eligibility and the assessment for service planning. Qualified personnel conduct these evaluations based on age appropriate procedures, review of diagnostic medical information, observations, standardized test if appropriate, and informed clinical judgments. Infants with solely low incidence disabilities will be evaluated by specifically qualified personnel in the area of suspected disability. The infant will be assessed for service planning in five areas: cognitive development, physical development and health, communication, social/emotional development and adaptive development. These assessments will be directed toward determining the infant or toddler's unique strengths and needs, and the services or strategies appropriate to meet those needs. The assessments will be conducted in the language of the family's choice, and in natural environments whenever possible. Qualified staff will also assess the family's resources, priorities and concerns related to enhancing the development of the infant or toddler.

Individualized Family Service Plan Meeting

A meeting to develop an initial IFSP will be convened for each eligible infant and will include the parent, service coordinator and assessment staff. Other family members are welcome to attend. A translator will be provided if necessary. At this meeting, the IFSP document is completed. The IFSP consists of:

1. A statement of the family's resources, priorities and concerns related to enhancing the development of the infant;
2. A statement of the infant's or toddler's present levels of development in each of the areas assessed, based on measured evidence;
3. A statement of the major outcomes expected for the infant along with the criteria, procedures and timelines used;
4. A statement of the expected outcomes for the family when services for the family are related to meeting the special developmental needs of the infant;
5. A statement of the specific early intervention services necessary to meet the unique needs of the infant and family.

This information is recorded on forms developed by the Regional Center of the East Bay and approved by all of the SELPAs in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Parents must sign their consent for the IFSP on these forms before services can be provided.

Provision of Service

Early intervention services required under Part C for low incidence eligible children may include special instruction, assistive technology (including devices or services), audiology, family training, counseling and home visits, health services necessary for a child to benefit from other early intervention services, medical services for diagnosis and evaluation only, nursing services, nutrition services, occupational and physical therapy, psychological services, respite services, service coordination (case management), social work services, speech-language services, transportation and vision services. The service coordinator or provider may also assist the family in locating non-required services such as employment, child care, housing, immunizations, marital counseling or substance abuse programs. For dually eligible children served by the LEA and the Regional Center, the LEA is responsible only for provision of assessments, special education and related services, and service coordination.

Early Start services are provided on a schedule that is convenient for the family and addresses family priorities. If services cannot be provided in the natural environment of the infant or toddler, the IFSP document must include an explanation of why they must be provided elsewhere.

Infants and toddlers are eligible for services provided by the LEA when;
1. they have a solely low incidence disability and do not have another delay or disability that would make them eligible for Regional Center services.
2. they are eligible for Regional Center services but require intensive special education and services due to

  • functioning that is at or below 50% of his/her chronological age in one of the following areas:
    a) gross or fine motor development
    b) expressive or receptive language
    c) social or emotional development
    d) cognitive development
    e) visual development
  • functioning that is between 51% and 75% of his/her chronological age level in any two of the skill areas listed above.
  • having a disabling medical condition or congenital syndrome which requires intensive special education and services.
    Procedures for Review

A periodic review of the IFSP shall be conducted every six months, or more frequently if conditions warrant. The purpose of the review is to determine the degree to which progress is being made and whether modification of the IFSP is necessary. The periodic review may be conducted in a meeting or another means that is acceptable to the parents, such as a phone call. Documentation that the review has been conducted will be entered in the record.

An annual meeting to review the IFSP will be conducted, using the same provisions for notice and consent as in the initial IFSP, to measure outcomes and determine what services are necessary.

Transfer

Part C regulates how an infant or toddler transfers from one Regional Center area or LEA to another. The purpose is to provide early intervention services as soon as possible following a determination of eligibility and review of the IFSP. The sending Regional Center or LEA shall notify the receiving agency as soon as possible of the planned move, and with parent permission, transmit appropriate records. The receiving Regional Center or LEA shall review the IFSP within fourteen (14) days of receiving records, but in no case longer than forty-five (45) days from the initial parent contact. The receiving LEA or Regional Center will begin providing services described on the IFSP as soon as possible, or revise the IFSP in consultation with the family. Additional assessment may be conducted within the forty-five (45) day timeline, if necessary.

Transition to Preschool

To ensure the transition of a toddler to preschool services, under Part B or other services that may be available, the Regional Center and/or the LEA shall participate in a joint transition planning meeting to be held not less than ninety (90) days or more than nine months before the child reaches age three. For any child referred to the Infant Program after age two years, six months, the initial IFSP shall include appropriate LEA staff and the following transition steps:

  1. Discussions with, and training of parents regarding the transition to special education for a toddler with a disability who may be eligible for Part B services,
  2. Steps to prepare the toddler for changes in service delivery, including steps to help the toddler adjust to, and function in, a new setting
  3. With parental consent, the transmission of information about the toddler to the LEA, including evaluation and assessment information and copies of IFSPs that have been developed and implemented
  4. Identification of needed assessments to determine Regional center and special education eligibility and determining the agency responsible and timelines for completing the needed assessments.
  5. A plan for a joint meeting of the IEP and IFSP teams prior to the toddler's third birthday to review the outcomes of early intervention services and to determine the eligibility and program plan for a child who may be eligible for special education and related services.
  6. Procedures which ensure that there is no lag in service transition to the LEA.

Procedural Safeguards

In order to protect the infant or toddler's rights under Part C, the parent has a right to prior notice before any action, including assessment, is taken. If the infant or toddler is found ineligible for services, the LEA or Regional Center staff shall provide a written notice and offer to meet with the family within five days. In addition, IDEA Part C guarantees that parents have the right to the following:

  • A plan: Parents have the right to participate collaboratively in the process of developing an Individualized Family Service Plan. The plan outlines the specific services and supports that the child and family will receive.
  • Services provided in a timely manner: Parents have the right to an evaluation and assessment of their infant or toddler's functioning and have a right to a meeting to develop the IFSP within forty-five (45) days after they are referred. The plan must be reviewed every six months.
  • Grant permission: Parents have the right to approve or disapprove before their child is evaluated or receives any services. Parents have the right to decline services at any point.
  • Confidentiality: No information which is personally identifiable about a family may be released by an agency serving them without the written approval of the family, except as mandated by state law.
  • Assistance and Support: Parents may include other participants, such as family members, friends, experienced parents, or advocates in the development and implementation of early intervention services at the IFSP meeting.
  • Evaluation and Assessment: Parents have the right to participate, as members of the multidisciplinary team, in the process of evaluation and assessment. Appropriately qualified personnel from the regional center or local education agency determine eligibility for services with input from parents.
  • Service Coordination: Parents have the right to a service coordinator who assists them in understanding how the system works and obtaining appropriate early intervention services. The service coordinator will work with the family to assure implementation of the IFSP and to access needed services in a timely, efficient manner.
  • Information: Parents have the right to understandable information about the early intervention system and the services provided, information on and copies of all test results and records concerning their child. This information must be provided in the primary language or mode of communication whenever possible.
  • Disagree: Parents have the right to disagree with decisions made regarding evaluation for eligibility, assessment results, or services. If parents disagree or are not satisfied with services, they may engage in a process of informal problem solving and/or formal administrative proceedings.

Complaint Procedures

The California Department of Developmental Services offers a formal complaint procedure to parents that allege that an implementing agency has violated federal or state law governing the provision of appropriate early intervention services. The service coordinator will provide information and assistance to any individual or organization that has filed a written complaint. Within 60 days following the submission of a complaint, the Department of Developmental Services will carry out an investigation, review all relevant information, provide a written decision to all parties, and inform the complainant that they may appeal the final decision to the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Mediation and Due Process Procedures

A parent may request a mediation conference and/or a due process hearing if (A) the LEA proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, assessment, placement or provision of appropriate early intervention services, or (B) the LEA refuses to remove or amend a document in a record which the parent believes is inaccurate or misleading or violates the privacy or rights of the infant or toddler. The Regional Center or the LEA may request a due process hearing when the parent refuses to consent to an evaluation and assessment of the infant or toddler. A request for either a mediation or a due process hearing must be made in writing and filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The service coordinator may help the parent with the written request if necessary. Mediation or a Due process hearing will take place within thirty (30) days and will be held at a time and place convenient to the parents. During this period, the services currently being provided to the infant or toddler not in dispute will be continued.

A mediation conference is recommended to resolve disagreements between the parent and the LEA prior to going to Due Process Hearing. This conference will be conducted by an impartial, knowledgeable person under contract with the Department of Developmental Services. The matter being mediated will proceed to a due process hearing if either party waives mediation or if mediation fails in whole or in part.

If the matter proceeds to a Due Process Hearing, the Hearing Officer will examine the information, reach a resolution that is in compliance with federal and state law, and mail a written decision to each party within 30 days of receipt of the due process hearing request.

At the due process hearing, the parent has the right to knowledgeable counsel, to present evidence, to call witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses. Evidence must be disclosed to and by the parent five days before the proceeding. Following the hearing a written or electronic transcript of the proceedings will be available and a written decision must be sent to the parent.

Additional Assistance

Locally the CARE Parent Network provides assistance and information to parents of infants and toddlers with special needs. Parents with questions or need for support should be referred to their Martinez office. Their phone number is (925) 313-0999. Their services are free of charge and they have Spanish-speaking staff.

 

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