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Advocate Tip: Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)

What is Early Childhood Intervention?

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a statewide program that offers developmental therapies to children ages 0 to 36 months who have a disability or developmental delay. ECI provides free assessments and will develop an individualized plan for the child if services are needed. Some of the services that ECI provides include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and case management. ECI will work with families so that children can receive any necessary services in a familiar environment, such as the child’s home or daycare.

Who is Eligible for ECI?

Early Childhood Intervention is for children up to 36 months of age. Children over the age of three should be assessed by their local school district to determine if they are eligible for services. In addition to the age requirement, there are other criteria that a child must meet in order to qualify for ECI. Children with a medically diagnosed condition that has a high likelihood of causing developmental delays and children with auditory or visual impairments can qualify for ECI services. Children may also qualify for ECI services if their evaluation shows that they have a developmental delay that affects their functioning. Eligible children who are enrolled in Medicaid (including foster children) receive ECI services at no cost. Families with children who do not receive Medicaid pay for ECI services based on their family size and income. No child can be denied ECI services based on the family’s inability to pay.

Advocating for ECI Services

Children under the age of three who enter foster care should receive an ECI assessment as soon as possible. Research has shown that, the sooner a child receives intervention services for developmental delays, the better the outcomes are for that child. Advocates should ask the child’s caseworker if a referral for ECI has been submitted for the child. Once a referral has been submitted, Advocates should follow up with the child’s caregiver to find out when the ECI assessment is scheduled. If a child is receiving ECI services, Advocates should try to contact the child’s ECI case manager or service provider to obtain information on the child’s progress.

  1. True or False. Children cannot be assessed for ECI services until they enter Kindergarten.
  2. Name two types of services ECI offers children.
  3. What are the eligibility requirements for a child to receive ECI services?

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