For Healthcare Professionals

This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Who Is Eligible?

Infants and toddlers are eligible to receive early intervention services if they have a:

  • qualifying diagnosed condition.
  • significant delay in their cognitive, communication, adaptive, social-emotional, and/or physical development (including hearing or vision) based on a comprehensive evaluation conducted by a multidisciplinary team of professionals using a standardized measure. A significant delay is defined as:
    • -1.5 standard deviation or greater in one area of development, or
    • -1.25 standard deviation or greater in two or more areas of development.

Infants and toddlers may also be determined to be eligible for early intervention services based on an informed clinical opinion when problems with development, such as plateaus or regressions, are noted or when cultural considerations, age, or illness make evaluation difficult or invalid.

How do I know if a child should be referred for early intervention?

Screening and monitoring a child's development is important! Primary care providers should ensure that children receive well child visits, including developmental screenings according to the Bright Futures schedule. You can also have parents monitor their child's development by using the free milestones tracking materials from the CDC Learn the Signs. Act Early initiative.

How do I refer a child for early intervention?

If you have noted delays in a child's development or if a child has a qualifying diagnosed condition, please contact the First Steps Central Referral Unit either by completing and faxing the Referral Form or call to complete the Referral Form over the phone:

  • Form 1037: Child and Adolescent Health Referral Form
    The First Steps Early Intervention Program wants to ensure all infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families are identified and connected with early intervention services and supports as soon as possible. Anyone with knowledge about an infant or toddler who may need early intervention services should submit a referral to the program as soon as possible, but no later than seven (7) days, after determining an infant or toddler is in possible need of services.

What happens after a referral?

When a referral is received by the First Steps Central Referral Unit, it is assigned to a Local Early Intervention Program (LEIP) where the family resides. A Service Coordinator will contact the family to conduct an intake and arrange a comprehensive assessment or evaluation as appropriate to determine eligibility.

Health care providers can help expedite the eligibility process by providing documentation with parental release of any medical diagnoses or identified needs, especially if the child has a qualifying diagnosed condition. The Service Coordinator will attempt to get medical records supporting eligibility for early intervention. The medical records will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of Early Interventionists.

If the child and family has been determined to be eligible, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) will be developed. The IFSP will identify the concerns of the family, goals for the child and family, and the early intervention services and supports needed to achieve the goals.

Are early intervention services free?

No; however, early intervention services are provided at no cost to the family. Families will complete a Systems of Payments document to determine how the costs of early intervention services will be paid. Private and public insurance are accessed to cover these services with family consent. If no other payor source can be determined, the First Steps Early Intervention Program will serve as the payor of last resort.

Who provides early intervention services?

A variety of health, educational, and developmental professionals are enrolled with the First Steps Early Intervention program. These public and private Early Intervention Service Providers are located across the state and assist families with meeting their goals outlined on the IFSP.

What will early intervention service delivery look like?

Early Interventionists work with families and children in their homes and communities to help families make adaptations to their environment and use strategies or techniques to encourage the child to be successful in their daily activities and routines. By serving children and families in their natural environment where the child spends most of their time the child will have many opportunities to learn new skills. Receiving early intervention services in a natural environment is a requirement of the program and a key principle underlying how early intervention works. Delivering services this way empowers family members to be able to provide learning opportunities for their children every day.

Sometimes services cannot be provided in the child and family's natural environment. In those cases, the professionals may provide services in a clinic or local health department; however, a written justification must be provided along with a plan to transition those services to a natural environment as soon as practicable. In addition, Early Interventionists serving children and families outside of the natural environment must provide guidance on how to generalize the approaches to the home and community.

Last reviewed on Jun 29, 2023 request edits
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

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