Early Start/Early Intervention Program

A child with or at risk of developmental delay or disability can receive an "Early Start" in the State of California.  Teams of service coordinators, health care providers, early intervention specialists, therapists, and parent resource specialists can evaluate and assess an infant or toddler and provide appropriate early intervention services to children eligible for California Early Start

Eligibility Criteria

Infants and toddlers from birth to 36 months may be eligible for early intervention services through documented evaluation and assessment if they meet one of the criteria listed below:

  • Have a developmental delay in either cognitive, communication, social or emotional, adaptive, or physical and motor development including vision and hearing; or
  • Have established risk conditions of known etiology, with a high probability of resulting in delayed development; or
  • Are at high risk of having a substantial developmental disability due to a combination of risk factors.
Early Intervention Services

Based on the child's assessed developmental needs and the family's concerns and priorities as determined by each child's Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) team, early intervention services may include:

  • Assistive technology
  • Audiology
  • Family training, counseling, and home visits
  • Health services
  • Medical services for diagnostic/evaluation purposes only
  • Nursing services
  • Nutrition services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services
  • Respite services
  • Service coordination (case management)
  • Social work services
  • Special instruction
  • Speech and language services
  • Transportation and related costs
  • Vision services
Developmental Disabilities

The term developmental disability refers to a severe and chronic disability that is attributable to a mental or physical impairment that begins before an individual reaches adulthood. These disabilities include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, and disabling conditions closely related to mental retardation or requiring similar treatment.

For an individual to be assessed in California as having a developmental disability, the disability must begin before the individual's 18th birthday, be expected to continue indefinitely and present a substantial disability.