Link invites inquiries from physicians. We believe that through partnership
with physicians we can provide the most comprehensive developmental
care for infants and toddlers with disabilities and delays and their
families. We can provide you with brochures or other educational materials
for your staff and patients. Please contact Carmela Balacco, Director
of Family Support at 908-964-5303 or
to discuss any concerns you may have or information you may need.
Early Intervention eligibility
evaluations are provided at no cost to the family. A physician referral
is not required. We encourage you to share your concerns with families
and refer them to the Special Child Health Services Unit in their county.
Concerned about a child's
This article is reprinted
with generous permission from The New Jersey Pediatrician, Volume 26,
Winter 2001, newsletter of the American Academy of Pediatrics/ New Jersey
Early Intervention Services
Joseph Halahan, MD, FAAP
Committee on Children with Disabilities
In New Jersey, Early Intervention
Services are available for infants and toddlers from birth until 3 years
of age who manifest significant developmental problems. Most of these
services are available at no cost to families. Eligibility criteria
include a developmental delay of 33% in one developmental area or a
25% delay in two or more areas. In addition, infants and toddlers with
a physician diagnosed condition, representing a high probability of
developmental delay, such as Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy,
etc., are also eligible.
For the infants and toddlers
who meet the 33% or 25% delay criteria, a specific medical diagnosis
is not required for eligibility and participation in Early Intervention
Services. When an infant or toddler presents with an apparent developmental
delay, it is appropriate to refer for Early Intervention therapeutic
services at the same time that referrals may be underway to determine
a medical diagnosis or potential medical treatments. The Early Intervention
team will conduct an evaluation and decide if eligibility criteria are
Once eligible, an Individualized
Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed and service coordination is
provided. Families participate in the entire process and have the right
to refuse or disagree with recommendations. Parent training and development
of parent competence are integral components of the intervention process
and services are provided within the child's natural environment, most
often the home, but may include other community sites as well.
There is strong emphasis
on partnership with the family in planning and delivery of services.
The family is actively involved in development of objectives and in
planning the services their child will receive.
It is generally recognized
that there has been an increase in the number of infants and children
presenting with disorders on the Autistic/PDD spectrum and early provision
of services for these youngsters is especially important in optimizing
their long-range prognosis. Early recognition of these disorders is
most important. A number of indicators may help to recognize these youngsters
at an earlier age. These indicators include: loss of speech after a
number of words had developed; lack of language comprehension and following
directions; lack of interest in peers and a strong determination to
do their own thing; absence of pointing and use of gestures to communicate
and lack of response to similar gestures; as well as a variety of repetitive
mannerisms such as arm-flapping or an inordinate fascination with certain
objects or topics.
The vast majority of families
appreciate their pediatrician's concern. They want to hear early on
if there are concerns regarding their child's development and
want to proceed to determine if there truly are developmental problems
that need to be addressed and if so, want their child to begin to receive
remedial services as quickly as possible. They understand that it is
difficult to be sure when infants and toddlers are still young, but
would rather hear there is a concern and take the necessary steps toward
further evaluation and services if they are indicated.
The point of entry for Early
Intervention Services for each county is through the Department of Special
Child Health and Senior Services, County Case Management units. There
is a separate number for each county that can then be utilized for subsequent
referrals. The County Case Management unit and phone number for each
county can be obtained by calling 609-777-7734.