Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

An Overview of Early Intervention Services

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

An Overview of Early Intervention Services

Article excerpt

Early Intervention Services (EIS) refers to specialized services designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers, birth to age three, who have a developmental delay or disability. All states, United States jurisdictions, and the Department of Defense (DoD) have EIS for all children with disabilities from birth through age three. Within the Department of Defense (DoD), the military medical departments provide EIS services through their Educational and Development Intervention Services (EDIS) program.


Generally, a child must meet one of the following three criteria to be eligible for EIS/EDIS services:

* Have a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay, including, but not limited to, Down syndrome, spina bifida, hearing or vision loss, and cerebral palsy

* Be experiencing developmental delays, as defined by the state or DoD, in one or more developmental areas: cognitive, physical (including vision and hearing), communication, social, emotional, or adaptive

* At risk of having substantial developmental delays (at state or DoD discretion) if early intervention services are not provided

For EIS, eligibility varies from state to state due to differences in both definitions of developmental delay and the list of conditions that are likely to result in developmental delay. Therefore, children who are eligible for services in one state may not be eligible in another state. The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center) maintains a listing of eachstate's criteria for services.

DoD Instruction 1342.12 provides specific guidance on the standard definition for developmental delay and uniform criteria for conditions likely to result in eligibility under a developmental delay for DoD.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that no family is denied educational services for a child with special needs because of finances. It provides guidance to all states and DoD regarding identification of disabilities, evaluation, on-going assessment, and service planning/coordination for education at no cost to families. However, direct services such as speech therapy may or may not be fully funded under individual state programs.

EIS. States use a variety of methods to pay for direct services including sliding scale fees and public or private insurance in addition to Federal and state IDEA funding. TRICARE will share the cost of early identification services not covered by the state if those services are deemed medically and psychologically necessary. Questions about paying for early intervention services can be answered by the TRICARE Beneficiary Counseling and Assistance Coordinator. …

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