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