Step 5: Prepare Referral Process

Finding Early Intervention Services in Your Area

Most children screened will not need a referral. For those that do, it is best to refer the child to your local IDEA Part C services and plan to follow up with the family.

What is Part C?

            Part C refers to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) section titled Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities. The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C of IDEA) is a federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth through age 2 years, and their families. Every state/locality has a Part C administrator. Visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center for a complete list of state Part C contacts.

Making a Referral

Early Intervention referral processes differ by state. Typically, anybody can make a referral to Early Intervention- doctor, parent, child care provider- but as services are voluntary, parental consent is needed for the process to proceed. Many localities accept both phone calls and faxed forms as referrals. The referral form usually needs complete contact information for the family and the reason for the referral. Referrals often lead to developmental evaluations, for which they may need a health status form to be filled out by the physician.

The Importance of an Internal Coordination Process

Although it is always great to encourage parents to contact Early Intervention services, it is not enough to ensure that the child receives necessary services. Parents may not make contact with Early Intervention, or be discouraged or confused by the process. Not all referrals lead to evaluations, and not all evaluations result in services. That does not mean that the child wouldn’t benefit from another kind of developmental support. Therefore, we recommend that the doctor’s office make referrals and have a system of following up on them to ensure connection to services. This will ensure that children continue on a healthy developmental trajectory between doctor’s appointments.

Included in This Step:

 

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Quality early childhood education settings have great potential to transform our nation’s health.

Dina Lieser, MD, FAAP