By identifying and addressing developmental delays in their earliest stages, early intervention services may prevent the escalation of issues that might otherwise lead to more complex concerns later in life. Intervening early provides the opportunity to offer targeted support and resources when they can have the most significant impact.
Early Intervention is a program that provides supports and therapy services designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers with developmental delays. These services are family-centered and are designed to reflect each family’s strengths, concerns, priorities, resources, and routines.
In Pennsylvania, early intervention is considered to be an “entitlement service”. This means that, after an independent evaluation performed by the county, any child from birth to age three demonstrating a 25% delay in any area is eligible for services. These services are provided to the child at no cost to the family.
Using state-approved standardized developmental testing tools, observation, parental input, and medical history (when needed), a child’s overall abilities are assessed and discussed with the family. The five areas evaluated include the following:
Cognitive-ability to think and learn
Communication – ability to talk, listen, and understand
Physical-ability to see, hear, and move
Social/Emotional – ability to relate to others
Adaptive (Self-Care) – ability to eat, dress, and take care of needs
There are several other ways a child may qualify for services:
If a child does not yet demonstrate a qualifying delay and there are no formal tools/tests to measure the child’s development, the professional may use observations to make a decision regarding eligibility using “Informed Clinical Opinion”.
If the child has a diagnoses which may eventually lead to some developmental delays, (for example-Down Syndrome, Failure to Thrive, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) a professional may qualify a child even though there is no current delay.
Finally, in Pennsylvania, children who are considered to be “at risk” can be tracked through the system and monitored for developmental progress. They will be followed by the county’s early intervention service coordinators at least once every three months.
Low birth weight-under 3.3 pounds
Time in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Confirmed dangerous lead levels
Prenatal drug exposure and/or withdrawal symptoms
Abuse/neglect confirmed by Child Welfare System
SFI Therapy Services:
All of our pediatric therapists and teachers are licensed/certified in their specific disciplines, are required to complete annual trainings specified by the state, and are also required by their licensing boards to participate in on-going education.
Specialized areas include autism, infant massage, torticollis treatment, feeding difficulties, behavior problems, communication devices, special equipment, and assistive technology expertise.
Our team includes pediatric speech/language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and special instructors/developmental teachers.
Children that may be having vision or hearing issues can receive services in those areas through the Centre County Base Service Unit’s contract with various provider agencies.
A physician referral is not required to determine a need for early intervention; however, always discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor. Children-at any age-are rewarding, challenging, demanding, confusing and constantly changing. They are all of these things and more-sometimes at the same time!! They all grow and develop at their own pace and there is a fairly wide range of developmental milestones. Concerns begin to arise when new skills do not appear or there is regression of any kind. Remember-early identification and treatment is crucial in order for all children to reach their potential.
All early intervention referrals start at the Base Service Unit in your county. They will schedule an intake, provide the evaluations, and assign your family a service coordinator to monitor your child’s services.
Centre County: (814) 355-6586