Early Intervention

Early intervention services are designed to meet the developmental needs of an infant or toddler with a disability, and the needs of the child’s family, to assist in his or her development. These services are usually provided at no cost through the public school system. Some of the areas early intervention helps with include:

  • Physical development (reaching, rolling, crawling, walking)
  • Cognitive development (thinking, learning, problem-solving)
  • Communication (listening, talking, understanding)
  • Social or emotional development (playing, interaction with others, appropriate expression of emotions/feelings)
  • Adaptive development (self-help skills such as bathing, toileting, and dressing)

Key Terms

Point of Reference: Part C of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act): The section of the law that recognizes the need to identify and reach infants and toddlers with disabilities. Early intervention helps children and their families from birth to two years.

Consent: In the context of early intervention, consent means the parent has been fully informed (in his or her native language) of the information relevant to the service or activity for which consent is sought; the parent understands this consent is voluntary and may be revoked, and agrees in writing. If that consent is revoked it is not retroactive (does not apply to actions before consent was revoked).

Developmental Delay: A delay in some area of development. This could be cognitive, physical, social/emotional, adaptive, or a communication delay. An eligible child may also have an established physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay.

Informed clinical opinion: This term is used by early intervention professionals in the evaluation and assessment process to make recommendations for service eligibility under Part C of the IDEA Act. Informed clinical opinion includes physical tests and observation by professionals as well as taking into account past records and developmental history as well as information gathered from family members, other caregivers, and educators.

Early Intervention Services: Services that help babies and toddlers with disabilities and/or developmental delays. Focus is on helping the child learn basic skills that typically are learned during the first 3 years of life. The needs of the family to assist the child in developing these skills are also addressed.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): An Individualized Family Service Plan is a written document developed by the parents and service team. It outlines early intervention services for the child and his or her family. The plan includes the child’s current levels and needs, family information and concerns, expected outcomes, specific services, where and when the services will be provided, who pays for services, the service coordinator’s name, and transitional services to be provided when the time comes. Each state has specific guidelines for this plan.

Multidisciplinary: Means the evaluation group includes more than one qualified person with different areas of training and expertise to assess the child’s needs.

Native language: A person’s first learned language or the one he or she speaks and understands best.

Natural environments: Settings that are typical for a same-aged infant or toddler without a disability. This may include the home or community settings.

Prior written notice: Notice provided to parents informing them of a proposed (or refused) action in regards to early intervention. This must be provided within a reasonable time prior to the proposed decision.

Service coordination services (case management): These services are provided by a service coordinator to assist an infant or toddler with a disability, along with his or her family, to receive the services to which he or she is entitled. This person serves as the single point of contact for providing services such as obtaining early intervention, making referrals to providers, and scheduling appointments. This person also participates in the development, review, and evaluation of IFSPs.

Who is eligible?

Infants and toddlers (up with a developmental delay or disability, as defined by IDEA and your state). More information about the eligibility rules in Virginia.

Eligibility indicators:

  • At least 25% below chronological or adjusted age, in one or more of areas of development, OR
  • Children who manifest atypical development or behavior, demonstrated by one or more specified criteria (even in the absence of a 25% developmental delay).
  • Children with a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay.
  • For children born prematurely (gestation < 37 weeks), the child’s adjusted age is used to determine developmental status. Chronological age is used once the child is 18 months old.

Normal Developmental Milestones: Below is a link to help understand what are considered normal milestones according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Request for Evaluation: You may request an evaluation from your doctor or pediatrician. Another option is to contact your state’s public early childhood system for a free evaluation. You may also wish to contact Infant and Toddler Connection of VA. If your child is three years or older, contact your local public school system.

  • Infant and Toddler Connection of Central Virginia (Counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell and cities of Bedford and Lynchburg)

Contact Information
307 Alleghany Ave.
Lynchburg, VA 24501
(434) 477-5904


  • Infant and Toddler Connection of the Heartland (Counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward)

Contact Information 
201 Main Street
Farmville, VA
(434) 395-2967


  • Infant and Toddler Connection of Danville-Pittsylvania

Contact Information 
245 Hairston Street
Danville, VA 24540
(434) 799-0456 Ext. 3121


  • Infant and Toddler Connection of the Piedmont (Counties of Henry, Franklin and Patrick and City of Martinsville)

Contact Information 
24 Clay Street
Martinsville, VA 24112
(276) 632-2108


  • Infant and Toddler Connection of Southside (Counties of Brunswick, Mecklenburg and Halifax and Cities of South Boston and South Hill)

Contact Information 
450 Washington Street
Boydton, VA 23917
(434) 738-0406, Ext. 304


  • Infant and Toddler Connection of Western Tidewater (Counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton and Cities of Franklin and Suffolk)

Contact Information 
700 Campbell Ave.
Franklin, VA 23851
(757) 566-3300

Evaluation and Assessment Process: A team of people with different areas of expertise will evaluate your child to determine eligibility. This determination can be found by using doctor’s reports, results from developmental tests and performance assessments, the child’s medical and developmental history, and direct observation of the child. The team will also consider other information provided by the parents and other caregivers.

Writing the ISFP: The ISFP outlines a plan for treatment and therapy for the child and his or her family. This plan will list goals and have regular repeat evaluations to check for progress. The plan will involve the parents and other caregivers in helping to carry out the treatment and therapy whenever possible.

Time Frame: 45 calendar days from referral to completion of the IFSP for an eligible child.

Cost for Services: Many of the services are free and those that are not must be disclosed prior to accepting them. Under Part C of IDEA, Child Find services, evaluations and assessments, development and review of the IFSP and service coordination must be provided without cost.

Other Resources