Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention (EI) services within Luzerne and Wyoming Counties are provided to children ages Birth to five years of age who are experiencing a delay in their development. The children are evaluated and found to be eligible for special education services under the guidelines of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations. Early Intervention in Pennsylvania consists of services and supports designed to help families with children who have developmental delays or disabilities. Early Intervention builds upon the natural learning that occurs in a child’s first few years of life. It is a process that promotes collaboration among parents, service providers and others, who are significantly involved with a child. The primary developmental areas are:

  • Ability to move, see and hear – physical development
  • Ability to talk, express needs – language and speech development
  • Ability to relate to others – social and emotional development
  • Ability to eat, dress and take care of themselves – self help (or adaptive) development
  • Ability to think and learn – cognitive development

What is an IFSP vs. an IEP?

Children Under Three: An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is both a process you go through and a document that you and a team of specialists develop to assist you and your child. A key principle of early intervention is that services occur in a natural setting—where you and your child feel most comfortable. This is usually your home, but it could also be a place like a nearby community center.

The IFSP takes into account your child’s present level of functioning and needs. It focuses on what you need as a family to best support your child. What are your priorities for your child and your family? What are your concerns? What are your resources? The IFSP builds on the individual strengths of each family member. Together, this all helps personalize the plan for your family.

You must give your written consent before the plan goes into action. You know your child best. If you feel a certain service isn’t right for your child, you can decline it at any time. This won’t hurt your child’s chances for receiving other services.

Children Three –Twenty One: An Individualized Education Program (IEP), on the other hand, is a plan for special education and related services for children ages 3 to 21. a child is determined to be eligible for EI services, an Individualized Education Plan is developed. Parents, families and professionals from the EI program and others who have knowledge about the student participate in the IEP process. Parents and families have a critical role in the development of their child’s IEP.

What are my child’s rights?

All information including Federal Law, Regulations and Policy Letters for Part C of the IDEA regarding infants and toddlers can be found at ECTA: Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

All information including Pennsylvania Code regarding infants and toddlers can be found at:

All information including Preschool Special Education Services (Section 619 of IDEA) can be found at ECTA: Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

All information including Pennsylvania Code regarding CHAPTER 14. SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES AND PROGRAMS can be found at:

How can I refer my child for an evaluation?

Children Under Three Years Old: In Luzerne and Wyoming Counties, MHDS is the lead for all EI services for children under three years old. For more information, contact 570-831-7224 or visit: http://www.mhdslw.org/services/early-intervention-services

Children Three to Five Years Old: In Luzerne and Wyoming Counties, Hazleton Area School District is the lead agency for this age group and population. For more information, please contact: 570-454-1870 or 570-826-0850 or visit: https://www.hasdk12.org/Page/92

How will my child be evaluated?

Screening: Once a referral is received, the family may participate in the screening activities designed to gather information about the child’s development in the following areas:

  • Cognitive
  • Gross motor
  • Fine motor
  • Self-help skills
  • Social/ Emotional skills
  • Communication skills

Evaluation: Children, who do not meet the basic developmental standards for their age level according to the screening tools and activities, are then offered an evaluation. Parents must give permission for the evaluation to take place and for their participation in the process. A Permission to Evaluate is issued and a written evaluation report is completed within 60 days.

In order for the child to be eligible for services, he/she must demonstrate at least a 25% developmental delay in one or more of the areas that were screened AND demonstrate a need for specially designed instruction in order to participate.
The child must have one of the following diagnosed disabilities and also demonstrate a need for specially designed instruction:

Deaf Blindness
Emotional Disturbance
Hearing Impairment, including Deafness
Intellectually Disabled
Multiple Disabilities
Orthopedic Impairment
Other Health Impairment
Speech/Language Impairment
Traumatic Brain Injury
Visual Impairment, including Blindness

What services are available to my child?

Early Intervention services can include among other things, information on how children develop, early education programs, therapies available which will help support your child’s additional needs, ideas of how families can assist their child at home and also counseling services designed to help parent’s understand the importance of parenting skills to their child’s growth and development.

Services provided are based on each child’s individual needs. If your child is eligible, a plan will be developed that may include one or several of the following services:

  • early identification, screening and assessment services
  • assistive technology devices and services
  • nursing services
  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy services
  • social work services
  • special instruction
  • speech-language therapy services
  • transportation services
  • vision services

Family centered services and supports are based on the child’s strengths, concerns, priorities and resources identified by the parent or primary caregiver. Services and supports are designed to respect the family’s concerns, interests, and values.