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Early intervention (E.I.)


Early intervention, or EI, is a system of services that helps young children with “developmental delays.” Developmental delays means your child does not learn or do the things most children do at the same age. Health care providers call this “meeting developmental milestones.” If your child is not meeting developmental milestones, he might qualify for EI.

The EI services are part of a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). They are available free in every state and territory in the United States.

This page tells you more about EI and how to learn if your child qualifies.

Does my child qualify for E.I. services?

Maybe, if he is younger than 3 and has an EI evaluation. An evaluation checks your child’s skills in the following areas:

  • Thinking and learning,
  • Physical,
  • Communication,
  • Social and emotional, and
  • Life activities.

In some states, your child must have a certain amount of delay in certain skills. Other states give services to children with known risks for developmental delay, such as being premature (born early).

What could my child receive with E.I. services?

Your child might receive:

  • Speech and language therapy
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Help with hearing, seeing, or nutrition, or
  • Mental and emotional help.

How can I ask for E.I.?

If you are concerned that your child is not meeting developmental milestones, here are some things you can do.

  • Contact your child’s pediatrician or St. Jude doctor. Ask for a referral for an EI evaluation in your community.
  • Call the St. Jude Psychology Clinic at 901-595-3581 and ask for information.
  • Look up contact information for your state on the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center website.

What do I say when I contact my state’s E.I. office?

You should be ready to answer some questions over the phone. You will probably need to give information on your name, address, child’s name, and more. Also, you will probably need to give information on your child’s health. Explain that you are concerned about your child’s development and that you would like to have him evaluated under Part C of IDEA. Once you or your child’s health care provider does this, the EI office has 45 days to evaluate your child.

If your child qualifies for EI services, local EI staff members will recommend specific services and coordinate your child’s appointments. They also will work with you to create an individualized family service plan, or IFSP, to guide the help your child receives.


If you have questions about EI services, ask your child’s St. Jude doctor or nurse practitioner. You may also ask a psychologist, rehabilitation specialist, social worker, or Child Life specialist or call the St. Jude Psychology Clinic at 901-595-3581.

Important terms to know about early intervention (EI) services

Developmental delay: Indication that your child is not learning or doing what most children do at the same age. Health care providers call this “meeting developmental milestones.”

Eligibility: Specific rules that states use to learn if your child qualifies for EI services. These are based on information collected from your child’s evaluation.

Evaluation: A process to learn if your child qualifies for EI services. Going through this process involves asking you questions and interacting with your child.

IFSP: Stands for “individualized family service plan.” A document that is created if your child qualifies for EI services.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).