What can I do if I have a concern or complaint?
You are an important member of your child’s early intervention services. As a parent, you may have concerns about how the EI program is providing services. If you find that you have a concern, problem or conflict, you have options:
- Talk about your concerns with your service coordinator. Let them know what your concerns are.
- Speak with the Program Director. He/she might be able to address the concern quickly.
- Call the Department of Public Health Division for Early Intervention at (617) 624-6060. A staff person can provide you more information about your rights and options.
- Request mediation: Mediation is a voluntary process. Parents and members of the EI team agree to talk about the issue with a neutral person (a mediator). Mediation helps parents and the EI team come up with new ideas to negotiate an agreement.
- Request a due process hearing: A hearing may be helpful if the violation links to your child receiving appropriate EI services. However, a due process hearing may not be needed to resolve a violation of a child or parent’s rights.
What is the difference between a formal complaint, mediation and a due process hearing?
A formal complaint investigation is a process used to determine if an EI program followed a requirement procedure, policy or timeline. The decision about whether or not a violation occurred is made by DPH.
Examples of violations include:
- If the program did not allow you to see what records are kept on your child
- If the program did not provide you with prior written notice of an action the program proposed or refused to take related to your child’s IFSP services
- If the program did not complete an evaluation/assessment within 45-days of referral
Mediation is a process used to try to resolve a disagreement about a child’s eligibility for EI services or the types of EI services by working with a trained mediator. The mediator will clarify the issues and encourage both sides to think about new ideas to negotiate an agreement. The EI program and parent make their own decisions. The mediator does not make a decision about the disagreement.
A due process hearing is a process used to resolve a disagreement about a child’s eligibility for EI services or the types of EI services. A due process hearing can also resolve a disagreement about what is in a child’s EI record. A due process hearing can address some procedural and timeline issues if they involve providing appropriate services. The hearing officer will clarify which issue(s) are heard at the hearing. The decision about the disagreement is made by the hearing officer.
Some examples of disagreements decided at a due process hearing include:
- If you and the EI program do not agree about the type(s) of EI services or how often the services(s) are provided
- If the EI program includes information in your child’s record that you believe is inaccurate or misleading
Can I file a formal complaint, request mediation and a due process hearing all at the same time?
Yes. Mediation is available within 14-days and will not delay a hearing or a complaint investigation unless both sides agree to a delay.
If you file a formal complaint and a hearing request at the same time, any issue that is part of the hearing cannot be investigated. The hearing officer will decide which issue(s) are part of the hearing and which issue(s) can be investigated as a formal complaint.
Who can file a complaint?
A parent or someone acting on behalf of a child or a group of children may file a formal complaint.
Can I file a complaint anonymously?
DPH reviews complaint received by phone or that are not signed as informal complaints. You may call or submit the form to share your concerns. Informal complaints are not investigated.