The Early Intervention Program (EIP or EI) is included as Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA is the federal law that provides the right to a free and appropriate public education for all children under the age of 21. In Georgia, the EIP is coordinated by the Department of Public Health (DPH).
Eligible children are age birth through 3 years old who are identified with a developmental delay or diagnosed with a physical or mental condition that has a high probability of developmental delay. Children are eligible for EI until their third birthday. Children who continue to be eligible for special education services will transition to the special education program for school age children.
An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is created by the child’s parent(s) or guardian, Early Intervention Official, service coordinator, and evaluator. The IFSP is based on the results of the child’s evaluation, which identifies specific areas of need. The IFSP is reviewed every 6 months and evaluations are completed annually.
The IFSP identifies developmental and learning goals for the child to work towards through services such as health services, speech and feeding therapy, social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or special instruction. Special instruction often incorporates play based techniques to support the child’s continued learning of skills, particularly in the areas of cognitive and social development. All service providers support the family with information and strategies to support the child’s on‐going and continual development.
Early Intervention services are provided in the home, school, and community settings. The EI provider often travels to the child’s home, a caregiver’s home, or to child care centers in order to work with the child. In general, an EI provider creates their own daily schedule depending on how many children are on their caseload and length of service for each child. It is essential to have strong organizational skills, to be flexible in nature, and to have an energetic and engaging personality. Early Interventionists collaborate closely with parents and child care providers or teachers; coordinate with the team of multidisciplinary service professionals working with the same family, and contribute to documenting the child’s progress.