Children with special needs can often benefit from a number of therapies and, generally, the sooner they receive treatment, the better the outcomes will be. But, how do you know if a child needs help? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)requires each state to implement early identification policies to locate and refer children who may have a disability to that state’s early intervention (EI) program. Although IDEA is a federal law, each state sets its own EI policies and implements its own programs, much like Medicaid. Not all states will call it early intervention or EI, but states generally use similar terms meaning early identification and service for children with disabilities. While certain elements of EI remain consistent among the states, parents and educators should contact their state’s education agency to learn about state-specific policies and procedures.
There are two methods for identifying and referring a child to EI. The first is a referral, usually by an educator or a parent. The second is the Child Find program. Mandated by IDEA, Child Find continuously searches for and evaluates children who may have a disability with the use of Child Find activities, which can vary widely from school district to school district. Please contact the school Special Education Teacher if you have any questions.