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What Can I Expect After Making A Referral?

After making a referral, there are processes parents can expect in various phases we'll outline below: 

  • Intake Phase

  • Evaluations

  • Initial IFSP Meeting

  • Start of Services

  • Transition Planning

If the parent is interested in early intervention supports and services, the service coordinator will make an appointment with the parent at a time and place convenient to the family. This meeting is to complete “intake,” which though it may sound “medical,” is really just a conversation about early intervention, your child and your goals for your child, and going over your rights and explaining next steps.


Should the parent wish to proceed, the parent will select a provider (or providers) to complete a developmental evaluation (needed for eligibility determination and planning) and any other evaluations the family and service coordinator feel are needed to address parent concerns about the child’s development (for example, a speech evaluation for a child who is not yet talking).


After choosing the provider to complete the evaluations, the parent signs consent and release forms so that the service coordinator can share your contact information with the provider you have chosen, and so the provider can share the evaluation results with the service coordinator when the evaluations are completed.



The provider you have chosen will contact you to schedule a time for the evaluation(s) that you have given consent for. Families have the right to have evaluations conducted at a place familiar to the child (home or the child’s daycare) and can request this, or the parent may choose to take the child to the provider’s location for the evaluation(s). The therapist conducting the evaluation will rely on you, the expert on your child, for information and will ask you questions about things your child can (and can’t do). The therapist will also ask you about the pregnancy and birth and many other questions about your child.


The evaluation is usually fun for the child and therapists conducting the evaluations get down on the floor and play with the child to assess the child’s abilities, strengths, and needs. If a child is particularly shy, the parent can be there with the child and assist. In any evaluation situation, the parent can be present – this is your right!

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Initial IFSP Meeting

Within 45 days of the referral, you and your IFSP team must create your child’s IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan). When the evaluation results (also called “reports”) are in, your service coordinator will contact you to schedule a meeting to go over these results, answer questions, and begin planning what supports and services would be needed to reach the family’s goals for the child. The family, the service coordinator, and the therapist(s) who conducted the evaluations (or a representative for that office qualified to interpret evaluation results) attends this meeting.


The parent may invite anyone else they’d like to be present. This meeting will end with the “initial IFSP” (the first Individualized Family Service Plan). You’ll be asked to sign the plan (or submit an electronic signature) to show that you agree with the plan. Don’t sign until you feel the plan reflects what you want for your child!

Start of Services

When you sign the IFSP and agree to the plan that you and your IFSP team have made, the supports and services that you have given consent for your child to receive will begin within 30 days of your signature on the IFSP. Someone from the provider that you have selected will contact you to set up days/times and locations. Remember that children learn best in familiar places with familiar people. It is your right (and your child’s right) to receive services in your child’s typical environment (called “natural environment” in early intervention)!

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Transition Planning

Transition planning when a child approaches 3rd birthday

Shortly after your child’s second birthday, your IFSP team will begin talking with you about “next steps” – transition to other appropriate services (if needed) when your child turns three and early intervention ends. Three months (or ninety days) before your child’s third birthday, your team (with you as the leader) should have a transition plan with steps, activities, and any needed services to ensure a smooth transition out of early intervention and on to new learning activities. Part of the transition plan is scheduling a “transition conference” for you to meet with representatives of programs offering services for 3-5 year olds. Some options include:

  • “Part B” program through the Dept of Education and the local educational cooperatives

  • Head Start programs

  • Regular preschool

  • HIPPY (home visiting program)

  • For more information about transitioning at age three, read the family guide linked below in "Important Family Documents."



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Early interventionists are excited to guide you on a journey of early learning and development. Call or email to connect with us!

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