What is Early Intervention (EI)?
Massachusetts Early Intervention (EI) is a program for children birth to three who have developmental delays or are at risk of a developmental delay.
EI services are meant to help support families and caregivers and to enhance the development and learning of infants and toddlers through individualized, developmentally appropriate activities within the child’s and family’s everyday life.
Early Intervention supports children to:
- Develop positive social-emotional skills (building relationships)
- Gain knowledge and skills (learning)
- Use appropriate behaviors to meet their needs (developing independence)
And helps families to:
- Know their rights
- Communicate their child’s needs
- Help their children develop and learn
Who is eligible?
Any Massachusetts family with a child under three may be eligible for EI services if the child:
- Is not reaching age-appropriate milestones
- Is diagnosed with certain conditions
- Has a medical or social history which may put the child at risk for a developmental delay
What do services look like?
Infants and toddlers develop and learn through meaningful everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar places. The Early Intervention process from the initial contact through transition out of the program, is collaborative, individualized and reflects the child’s and family’s priorities, learning styles, culture and community. You are an important part of the EI visit. You play the most important role in accomplishing the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) outcomes for your family.
- Massachusetts 7 Key Principles Looks Like Doesn’t Look Like - For Families and Referral Sources (accessible) (DOCX)
What will my visit look like?
During your home visit, you, your child and your Early Intervention Specialist will:
- Learn about things your family does every day, such as eating meals, baths or a trip to the grocery store. Are these things easy? Are they hard? How does your child do these things with you?
- Come up with strategies to support Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) outcomes.
- Help you discover ways to practice skills in your daily activities.
- Help make sure you and your child are feeling confident learning new skills while enjoying the activities you do as a family.
Why do we do visits this way?
Massachusetts Early Intervention uses research to guide our home visits. We focus on three concepts in our work with families:
- Infants and toddlers learn best through lots of practice during daily activities.
- You have the greatest impact on your child’s progress. You are with your child every day. Early Intervention is only with your family for a short time.
- The EI Specialist supports your relationship with your child.
We use the principles from Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) to guide our home visits. PIWI helps parents and caregivers as well as infants and toddlers feel good about what they are doing together and individually. Massachusetts EI wants children and families to be active and successful in all they do throughout their lives.
Is there a cost?
There are no out of pocket costs for families.
Make a referral
Anyone can refer a child to an Early Intervention program by contacting the program that serves their city or town.