Early intervention is a term that often is used to describe specific agencies, programs, services, and resources. In North Carolina, early intervention refers to the system of services provided by many different agencies and programs for children birth to five and their families. This comprehensive, interagency system is called Together We Grow. There are two parts of Together We Grow – the Infant-Toddler Program for children birth to three and the Preschool Program for children ages three to five.
The early intervention system of services is provided under federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Part C of the IDEA provides the federal mandate for services for young children with special needs, aged birth to three years. Part B of the IDEA provides the federal mandate for students with special needs, aged 3-21 years.
Infant Toddler Program (Part C – birth to age 3)
The Infant-Toddler Program is a variety of agencies working together to provide early intervention services for children ages birth to three who have special needs and their families. Early intervention services help young children grow and develop and support their families in caring for them.
Principles of the Infant-Toddler Program
To promote the importance of families in guiding the services of children with special needs, the North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program believes that:
A child develops best if viewed first as a child, rather than as a child with special needs.
Children and families grow and develop, so services should change to meet their needs and choices.
As children are best supported within the family, the family is best supported within the community.
Children with special needs are best served in settings that are used by all children.
Family beliefs and values are important, as is the cultural (religious, ethnic, and racial) background of the family.
Teamwork among families and service providers guides services.
Visit http://www.ncei.org/ei/itp/cdsa.html (link to ncdhhs website) for a list of North Carolina Children’s Developmental Services Agencies (CDSAs)
Preschool Program (Part B – ages 3 to 5)
The program includes all 3- and 4- year-old children who have disabilities. Five-year-olds with disabilities who aren’t old enough for kindergarten are also included. The needs of these children (because of permanent or temporary disability in the areas of cognitive, communicative, social/ emotional and/or adaptive disabilities) are unable to be met in a natural environment without special education and related services. This group includes preschool children who are delayed or whose development is atypical and those who have autism, hearing loss, health impairments, orthopedic impairments, speech-language impairments, visual impairments, or traumatic brain-injury. Preschool children with disabilities who meet these eligibility criteria may receive services upon reaching their third birthday.
Assistive Technology Services and Devices
Early Identification and Screening
Medical Services for Evaluation
Parent Training and Information
Recreation including Therapeutic Recreation