Early Intervention

Early intervention is a system of services that helps children from birth to their third birthday who have developmental delays or disabilities or are at-risk of developing such conditions. Early intervention focuses on helping children learn the basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life, such as:

  • Physical: Reaching, rolling, crawling and walking
  • Cognitive: Thinking, learning and problem solving
  • Communication: Talking, listening and understanding
  • Social/emotional: Playing, feeling secure and happy
  • Self-help: Eating, dressing, etc.

Early intervention is available in every state and territory of the United States, and is regulated by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Once connected with your community’s early intervention program, you’ll be assigned a service coordinator who will explain the early intervention process and help you through the next steps in that process. Services are delivered on a sliding scale basis and are available regardless of ability to pay. 

Useful Links

Federal/National Sites

US Department of Education IDEA

National Disabilities Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) – We serve the nation as a central source of information on disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth. Here, you’ll also find easy-to-read information on IDEA, the law authorizing early intervention services and special education.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – promoting high quality early education for children 0-8.

Virginia Sites

Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia

Care Connection For Children (CCC) – CCC “is a statewide network of centers of excellence for children with special health care needs (CSHCN) that provide leadership in the enhancement of specialty medical services; care coordination; medical insurance benefits evaluation and coordination; management of the CSHCN Pool of Funds; information and referral to CSHCN resources; family-to-family support; and training and consultation with community providers on CSHCN issues.”

Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network – Striving to achieve excellence in early care.

Virginia Department of Health Child Development Clinics – “The Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Program promotes the optimal health and development of Virginia’s children with special health care needs by working in partnership with families, service providers and communities.”


Supporting Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their Families

Celebrating Special Children – Information and resources for Virginia’s disability community.

Parent-to-Parent Network – Parent to Parent contact can help families regain their sense of strength, of purpose and of independence. Through its network of volunteers, Parent to Parent of Virginia can offer many services.

Wrightslaw: Early Intervention Page

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

Terms to Know

Child Find – Each local school division has a Child Find program to identify, locate and evaluate children age birth to 21 in need of special education or related services. Search the internet for “Child Find” and your county to find your local program.

Multidisciplinary – means the involvement of two or more separate disciplines or professions.

Native Language – the typical communication mode or language an individual utilizes.

Natural Environments – settings that are natural or typical for a same-aged infant or toddler without a disability, may include the home or community settings, etc.

Prior Written Notice – prior written notice must be provided to parents a reasonable time before the lead agency or an EIS provider proposes, or refuses, to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or placement of their infant or toddler, or the provision of early intervention services to the infant or toddler with a disability and that infant’s or toddler’s family.

Some things to think about

“Inclusion does not mean fitting students with special needs into regular schools. Inclusion means creating schools where everyone fits.” — Dr. Marti Snell