What is Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)?
ECI is a wonderful opportunity for children with developmental delays or other disabilities and their families to begin an intervention program that will support children in making as much progress as possible during the important very early years from birth to 3 years. Services may include evaluation, screenings and assessments; developmental services; speech, occupational or physical therapy; family-centered intervention; and case management to explore a range of local resources and plan for the future. These services are available in every state in the country, and the Federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that these important supports are available to all families. Services are either free or based upon a sliding scale, depending on the number of children in the family and family income; however, no child is denied services because of funding.
Why is Early Childhood Intervention Important for Your Child?
Most children with Down syndrome will have been identified either prenatally or at birth. Beginning intervention and support services as early as possible is a key to your child’s long term positive outcomes. The sooner that services begin, the greater the chance that delay in developmental skills can be lessened. ECI supports will end on the child’s third birthday when they become eligible for services through the local public school.
It is possible to be overwhelmed during the first weeks or months of your child’s life. Remember that there is support available for you and your child from the time they are born through ECI’s staff of early childhood specialists, therapists, and social workers. Contact your local ECI program as soon as possible after your child’s birth to take advantage of the services and support they can offer.
How Can I Connect My Child and Our Family to Early Childhood Intervention?
ECI services are available in all parts of the state. For detailed explanations of available services and identification of the local agency responsible for providing services in your area please see https://hhs.texas.gov/services/disability/early-childhood-intervention-services.
You can search for the ECI Program in your area here: https://citysearch.hhsc.state.tx.us/
There are three local agencies providing Early Childhood Intervention services in San Antonio. Each agency supports specific zip-code areas. These local agencies are:
- Brighton Center: https://www.brightonsa.org/early-childhood-intervention
- Easter Seals of Central Texas – www.easterseals.com/centraltx/our-programs/childrens-services/eci.html
- Center for Health Care Services – www.chcs-eci.org/
Questions To Ask Your Local Early Childhood Intervention Program
- How do I make a referral for my child?
- What services will my child be eligible for?
- How is the decision made as to which services my child needs?
- Who will conduct the evaluation(s) that will be done? What are the qualifications of these individuals?
- Where will each of these services be provided?
- How much progress can I expect my child to make in the ECI program?
- Must I have insurance to participate in the program?
- Will someone help me learn how to support my child at home?
- My spouse and I both need to work. Can we still participate in the program? Can you help us find childcare that understands my child’s needs?
- Transportation is difficult for our family. Must we come to your offices to receive ECI services?