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Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois



Find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about early intervention. Just click on a question below to reveal the answer associated with it.

Early Intervention is a program for children under 3 who have developmental delays, disabilities, or are in at-risk conditions for developmental delays.

At no charge, the EI program will test infants and toddlers to see if they have a delay in:

  • Movement
  • Learning
  • Dealing with others
  • Behavior
  • Self-help skills

EI may help provide your child the best start in life, prevent or reduce the need for more intervention in the future, and reduce related costs.

Children under the age of 3 who:

  • Are experiencing developmental delays in any of the following areas:
    • Cognitive development (learning)
    • Physical development, including vision and hearing
    • Language and speech development
    • Social or emotional development (behavior)
    • Adaptive development (use of existing skills)
  • Have been diagnosed with certain physical or mental conditions (such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome)
  • Have certain family circumstances that put them at risk of substantial delays, such as:
    • A parent diagnosed with a developmental disability
    • A parent diagnosed with a severe mental disorder
    • Any three of the following:
    • Primary caregiver abuses alcohol or other substances
    • Primary caregiver is younger than 15
    • Child is homeless
    • Chronic illness of the primary caregiver
    • Mother abused alcohol or other substances during pregnancy
    • Primary caregiver has an education level less than the 10th grade, unless that level is appropriate to the primary caregiver’s age
    • Evidence of abuse or neglect and the child has not been removed from those circumstances

  1. Referral to Child and Family Connections (CFC) office
  2. Intake completed by a CFC service coordinator
  3. Evaluation (to determine eligibility) and ASSESSMENT
  4. Development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
  5. Parent consent for services
  6. Services provided to your child
  7. IFSP review every six months, or more frequently if needed
  8. Transition to a program for 3- to 5-year-old children


Early intervention provides these services:

  • Assistive technology devices and services
  • Early identification screening and assessment
  • Family training, counseling and home visits
  • Health services that allow your child to benefit from the other early intervention services
  • Medical services (only for diagnosis or evaluation)
  • Nursing services
  • Nutrition services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services
  • Service coordination
  • Social work services
  • Special instruction/developmental therapy
  • Speech language pathology and audiology
  • Transportation and related costs
  • Vision services

Early Intervention services are available through providers who have met state qualification requirements and service standards.  Examples include the following:

  • Special educators (developmental therapists)
  • Speech/language pathologists and audiologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Nurses
  • Dietitian nutritionists
  • Family therapists
  • Orientation and mobility specialists
  • Pediatricians and other physicians
  • Optometrists

Government agencies and and families pay for services.  The cost of evaluation, assessment and development of a service plan, and the cost of service coordination, are paid by the program and provided to families at no cost.  Ongoing Early Intervention services are paid for by the family’s health insurance, when appropriate, government insurance (AllKids), and EI program funds.  Your family contribution is based on your income.

Children and families receive Early Intervention services through one of 25 regional Child and Family Connections (CFCs).  To find a local CFC, call 800-323-4769.  Also, please visit our Early Intervention Resources page where we have fact sheets you can download.

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Last updated: April 24, 2014

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