Early Intervention is a free program that provides services to children birth to age three who have developmental delays or disabilities. In New York City the program is run by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Learn more about how you can access Early Intervention for your child, and what you can expect along the way.
Early Intervention is a free program that provides services to children birth to age three who have developmental delays or disabilities. In New York City the program is run by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Some of the services offered are:
Anyone can refer a child to Early Intervention by calling 311 and asking for Early Intervention in the borough where the child lives. The caller will need to provide basic information about the child, such as the child’s date of birth and the name and address of the child’s caretaker.
A service coordinator (SC) will be assigned to the case. The SC will contact the family to get consent and to set up appointments for evaluations. If the evaluations show that the child needs services, the SC will hold a meeting to write an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The IFSP is a written plan describing the services the child will receive. It should include such information as who will provide the services, when, where, and how often. If a child is found eligible, services must start within 45 days from the date the referral was made.
Children are eligible for Early Intervention if:
In most cases, the child’s parent or guardian is the only person who can sign consent for Early Intervention evaluations and services. If the parents’ identities are unknown, their whereabouts are unknown, or their rights have been terminated or surrendered in Family Court, then a surrogate parent (usually the foster parent) must be assigned to the child, and the surrogate parent may sign consent. The parents may agree to appoint someone else to make decisions about their child’s Early Intervention services. The law prohibits foster care agencies and foster care caseworkers from signing consent for Early Intervention evaluations or services.
If a child is found ineligible but you still have concerns, you can re-refer the child for a new evaluation after 3-4 months. You might also be able to get certain services through Medicaid or private insurance.
If a child is not receiving services on his or her IFSP, contact the service coordinator (SC). If the SC does not fix the problem, contact the borough director for assistance:
If the borough director is unable to fix the problem, you may file a system complaint or request mediation or an impartial hearing. Information about how to file a complaint or request a mediation or an impartial hearing is available here.
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.
Last Updated: 18 September 2019
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