For more than 50 years, the state of Colorado has provided early intervention (EI) services for children with developmental disabilities from birth to three years old. If your baby or toddler is showing behaviors or delays that concerns you, be sure to work with your pediatrician to ensure that medical or educational professionals appropriately screen your child for autism and other developmental disabilities.
How do you get EI services?
In most cases, it is the child’s doctor who refers the patient for state EI services, although other professionals may do so, or parents may self-refer, according to Imagine!, one of 20 nonprofit Community Centered Boards (CCBs) across the state. CCBs function as the local entry points for government programs, including EI, that support people with developmental disabilities.
The CCB will assign a service coordinator to the family. A child from birth to three years old who is referred for EI services must have a free, comprehensive evaluation within 45 days to determine if the child is eligible for services. Early Intervention Colorado explains that the child’s EI eligibility can be based on either significant developmental delay in at least one area or on a diagnosed condition likely to cause significant developmental delay. (In addition, a parent’s developmental disability also triggers EI eligibility for the baby.)
If the evaluation does not find the child eligible, the parent can request a dispute resolution process. Otherwise, an eligible child will receive an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that looks comprehensively at the family as a unit, how the child functions within the family system and how to support the child’s needs through interventional services.
After EI services end, the child is likely to be eligible for public preschool services based on their disability, followed by special education until age 21.
Having a child with a disability triggers estate planning concern
No matter how young your child is when you discover that they have a disability, this diagnosis has immediate ramifications for estate planning for your family, which an experienced attorney can explain. For example, it may be a good idea to set up a special needs trust to help preserve your child’s eligibility for government benefits. Grandparents and other relatives who would normally give the child money or leave them an inheritance should also consult legal counsel about ways to support the child without endangering their eligibility for benefits, which can be a lifeline for people with disabilities.