Step 4

Having an Evaluation Done

All infants and toddlers referred for early intervention services have the right to a free multidisciplinary evaluation. Multidisciplinary means a group that includes, at a minimum, at least two appropriate and qualified professionals, at least one of whom has expertise in your primary area of concern for your child and your service coordinator. Information from the multidisciplinary evaluation is used to determine your child’s eligibility and will look at all five areas of your child’s development. It is a process that will help you to better understand your child’s developmental strengths and needs and how early intervention can help. Unless you request otherwise, the multidisciplinary evaluation must be completed within 45 days of the referral date. You must sign a written permission form before any evaluation of your child occurs.

How is eligibility decided?

Your child and family may receive early intervention services if:

  • Your child and family live in Colorado;
  • Your child is between birth through two years of age; and
  • Your child meets one or both of the following two criteria.

I. Developmental Delay

Your child may be determined eligible because he or she has a significant delay in one or more of these developmental areas:

  • Adaptive or self-help skills, such as feeding and dressing;
  • Cognitive skills, such as thinking, learning, and reasoning;
  • Communication skills, such as understanding and using sounds, gestures, and words, pointing, understanding your words, expressing thoughts;
  • Physical development, such as vision, hearing, movement and health; and
  • Social-emotional development, such as getting along with others, expressing feelings, developing relationships.

II. Established Physical or Mental Condition

Your child may be determined eligible because he or she has been diagnosed with a physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a significant delay in development as your child gets older, even though he or she may not currently have an observable delay or disability. A list of conditions that will qualify a child for Colorado’s early intervention system is available on the state Early Intervention Colorado website at www.eicolorado.orgwithin the family section. If your child has a condition that automatically makes them eligible, your child will still receive a multidisciplinary evaluation to help plan for services.

What is a multidisciplinary evaluation?

A multidisciplinary evaluation is a process that is completed with you and your child by specialists from a variety of backgrounds such as medicine, teaching, and specialized developmental areas, such as communication or movement. The number and types of specialists involved in the evaluation will depend on your concerns and the needs of your child. However, at least two people from different specialty areas must be a part of the evaluation team, along with your service coordinator. The evaluation will consider information your family reports and your child’s:

  • Medical history and current health status;
  • Adaptive or self-help skills, such as feeding and dressing;
  • Cognitive skills, such as thinking, learning, and reasoning;
  • Communication skills, such as understanding and using sounds, gestures, and words, pointing, understanding your words, expressing thoughts;
  • Physical development, such as vision, hearing, movement and health; and
  • Social-emotional development, such as getting along with others, expressing feelings, developing relationships.

The multidisciplinary evaluation not only helps determine your child’s eligibility for early intervention services, it provides information to help determine which services are most appropriate, should your child be eligible. The evaluation also describes your child’s strengths and needs. Your family’s concerns, resources, and priorities are important. You can share as much or as little information as you wish. Keep in mind, an evaluation is not a test that your child either passes or fails. It is a way of letting you know what your child does well and where he or she needs some help. Information from evaluations can help you choose the best supports and services for your child and family.

Once completed, the evaluation team and your service coordinator will review with you the results from the evaluation, the information you provide about your child’s history and development, and any reports received from medical providers to arrive at an eligibility decision.

 

Getting Started: Ages Birth To Three

  • Who Do I Contact To Get Started?

    To schedule an intake appointment for a child ages birth to three, contact Imagine!’s intake department at 303-604-5424 or hforsyth@imaginecolorado.org.

  • Are there any other Early Intervention resources available?
  • What if your child is eligible?

    Although eligibility is based on information about your child, once your child is found eligible, the focus of supports and services opens up to include your whole family. This works best because your child and family are closely linked and affect each other in many ways. Your service coordinator is responsible for explaining the IFSP process to you. He or she will make sure the IFSP is written and will answer any questions you have.

    The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) describes the real-life outcomes you want for your child and family. The IFSP lists how, where, and when your family will work with the early intervention staff to reach those outcomes. Your service coordinator will offer you more details about the IFSP and many other topics throughout your work together.

  • What can early intervention services offer your family?

    Imagine! employs or contracts with qualified professional staff who are licensed or certified in different specialties, including early childhood education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, speech therapy, and other areas of expertise. The staff will work with you and in some cases with each other as a team to reach the outcomes you choose for your child and family.

    Imagine!’s Early Intervention program offers:

    • Free eligibility evaluation by trained, qualified professionals;
    • Services that will assist you to help your child during activities that are part of your family’s regular routine in your home or in the places where you and your child spend time in your community (for example, a child care center);
    • Supports that respect your family’s culture, values, and priorities;
    • Trained, qualified staff, all of whom will help you to work on goals related to your child’s and family’s needs;
    • Service coordination to help bring together the different people, information, and resources that will support your child and family; and
    • Some flexibility in the scheduling of visits for service delivery.
  • What early intervention services can be provided?

    Services are designed around your family’sneeds, concerns, and priorities. Natural learning opportunitiesthat happen throughout your day are used forpracticing new skills with your child.

    The early intervention services you receive are considered with the following in mind:

    • Focus—should be on your whole family, not just your eligible child
    • Outcomes—you choose which skill-building outcomes you want to work on with your child so that he or she may become successful in family and community activities
    • Providers—should work with you and your family in a close partnership
    • Length of Service—your participation continues until the outcomes you have identified have been reached or until your child’s third birthday, whichever comes first; transition to community resources upon exit (for example, child care, Head Start, preschool special education) is assisted by your service coordinator
    • Where—early intervention services should be in places in your home and community that you usually frequent (go to)
    • Intensity—the frequency of early intervention services is designed to support you and your child in making progress toward the outcomes you have identified and reflect early intervention practices that are supported by research
    • Measures of Success—your child learns new skills; your family gains confidence in meeting your child’s needs and in connecting with community resources and activities
  • What if your child is not eligible?

    If your child has not been diagnosed with an established condition and shows no delays, or only a mild or moderate delay, he or she will likely not be eligible for early intervention services in Colorado. If your child is not eligible, your evaluation team or service coordinator will offer you information about other services in your community, if needed, as well as a way to keep track of your child’s development. If at any time you have renewed concerns about your child’s development, you can call Imagine! to schedule another evaluation for your child. If you disagree with the results of the eligibility evaluation and this cannot be resolved by talking with the Early Intervention Director at Imagine!, state and federal law provides ways for you to resolve your dispute.

  • How do you handle disagreements about eligibility?

    If you and your multidisciplinary team cannot reach an agreement about your child’s evaluation or decisions about your child’s eligibility for early intervention services, it is important that you first try to settle these differences by talking with your service coordinator and with staff at Imagine!. Often you can work out an agreement that will meet your needs and preferences. If you continue to disagree, you may consider mediation and/or an administrative hearing. Your service coordinator can help you with the different ways to settle disagreements.

    Mediation is a process that allows you and Imagine! staff to talk about the details of your disagreement with an impartial, trained mediator. The mediator is a person who will work with you and the agency staff to find a solution to the disagreement. It is an informal process, and nothing is written unless you reach an agreement. You are encouraged to consider this option first as mediation works well in many situations. However, you are not required to use mediation and you can stop the mediation at any point if you feel it is no longer helpful.

    An administrative (due process) hearing is a more formal process that allows you and Imagine! to present positions before an impartial, trained administrative hearing officer. A due process hearing is conducted much like a court hearing. The hearing is provided at no cost to you, but you must pay for any attorney or other advocate to represent your family. You can have an advisor present at the hearing. The advisor can be legal counsel or another person who knows your child. The hearing officer’s decision is final unless you appeal the decision to the state Early Intervention Colorado office within 30 days of the decision or file a civil action in state or district court. You will be informed of the hearing officer’s decision in writing.

    Requests for either mediation or an administrative hearing are made in writing to the complaint officer at the state Early Intervention Colorado office. Whether you use mediation or the administrative hearing, the process must be completed and a decision made within 30 days of your written request for settlement.

    If you disagree with the resolution of any decisions concerning eligibility, if you have concerns about your other rights, or if you feel that federal or state law is not being followed, you may request that the state Early Intervention Colorado office investigate your problem. You can reach the state Early Intervention Colorado office by calling 1-888-777-4041 and following the prompts. A more detailed description of dispute resolution options is also available at www.eicolorado.org.

  • How will you keep up with information?

    Make sure you get copies of all written information about your child (records, reports, etc.). This will help you keep track of services and advocate for your child. Remember, as time goes on, you’ll probably have more information to keep track of, so it’s a good idea to keep copies from the beginning and to keep it all together in one place.

    Your family may find it helpful to put all the information about their child in a notebook. Your service coordinator can give you ideas for organizing the information.