Screening & Early Intervention

When children are screened and issues are identified early, intervention is highly effective

You can monitor your child’s development by looking at checklists of child development milestones and observing your child in daily activities. But checklists are just a guide and all children grow and develop at their own pace. 

Regular screening is the best way to find out if your child needs more support or additional screening. Developmental screenings are done regularly, usually by a health care or child care provider. Screenings are done during the first year of life and then once a year from age 1 to 5.

Children’s brains are about 85% developed by the time they turn 3. Early intervention is highly effective because young children’s developing brains can more easily learn new skills compared to older people.

Early Intervention in Jefferson County serves children birth to age 3 and helps them get services such as physical or occupational therapy, mental health support or consultation, or extra support in the classroom or child care center.

Anyone can make a referral to EI, including you!

Services are offered at no cost to families. To learn more about Early Intervention call 303-462-6619 or email eireferral@ddrcco.com.

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It’s common to feel anxious if your pediatrician says that your child’s development is “delayed” or “atypical” for their age.

However, the good news is that most of the time, early screening can lead to very positive outcomes and help children get back on track.

Since children’s brains develop so quickly in early childhood, working to ensure they have healthy relationships and positive experiences is the best way to promote positive brain development. Get tips on how to support your child’s social-emotional development.

If you live in Jefferson County and would like some information on how to get a screening done for your child, talk to your medical provider or contact the Early Childhood Consultation Warmline at 303-432-5455.

If you child’s screening identifies areas of development that could benefit from formal support, your doctor may refer you to Early Intervention. To learn more about the process of engaging with Early Intervention, see below.

If you or someone who cares about your child has concerns about his or her development, a referral can be made to DDRC’s Early Intervention team.

Although other people may contact Early Intervention in your county on behalf of your child (such as a doctor, child care provider, neighbor, or family member), no evaluation of your child, development of an individualized plan, or provision of EI services will be provided without your consent.

When DDRC receives a referral for Early Intervention, a Service Coordinator is assigned to your family.

A Service Coordinator is a person who works with you during your child’s involvement with the EI Colorado program to assist you in accessing services and to inform you of your legal rights. Federal and state laws require that all children and families served by the EI Colorado program have a Service Coordinator.

Your Service Coordinator will work with you to schedule an evaluation for your child.

All infants and toddlers referred to the EI Colorado program have the right to a free evaluation and/or assessment. The evaluation will look at all areas of your child’s development. It is a process that will help you to better understand your child’s developmental strengths and needs and how EI services can help. (In Jefferson County, evaluations for Early Intervention may be conducted by either DDRC or by Child Find, an evaluation team at Jeffco Public Schools. Your Service Coordinator will work with you to coordinate this process.

Information from the evaluation is used to determine whether your child is eligible for Early Intervention services.

A child may be determined eligible because he or she has a significant delay in one or more of the following areas:

  • Adaptive development (taking care of self when doing things like feeding or dressing)
  • Cognitive development (thinking and learning skills)
  • Communication development (understanding and using sounds, gestures, and words)
  • Physical development (moving, seeing, and hearing)
  • Social-emotional development (responding to and developing relationships with other people)

A child may also be determined eligible because he or she has been diagnosed with a condition that will likely result in a significant delay in development. A list of diagnoses that will automatically qualify a child for the EI Colorado program is available at http://www.eicolorado.org.

The list is located in the “Make a Referral” tab and it is called “Database of All Diagnosed Conditions.” If your child has a condition that establishes their eligibility, your child will still need an assessment to help plan for what services may be needed.

If your child is eligible, an initial Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) will be developed within 45 days of the referral date. The IFSP is your family’s written plan for Early Intervention services.

The IFSP meeting occurs at a different time from the evaluation, and must be held at times and locations that are convenient for your family.

This means that you will be an active team member and decision maker throughout the planning process. The IFSP is based on information from your child’s evaluation and from the concerns, resources, and priorities that you identify through a conversational interview about your day. It will list the EI services your child needs to develop and learn, and the services your family needs to support your child’s development. In addition, it will list the duties of everyone involved.

The Early Intervention services specified on your child’s IFSP are required to begin within 28 days of your consent for services.

Your Service Coordinator will work with you and your team of Providers to schedule appointments and monitor progress. Your child’s IFSP is reviewed at least every six months. However, your needs may change sooner, so more frequent reviews may take place. It is also rewritten at least once a year.

Services offered through Early Intervention Colorado:

  • Assistive technology services
  • Audiology services
  • Developmental intervention services
  • Health services
  • Medical services
  • Nursing services
  • Nutrition Services
  • Occupational therapy services
  • Physical therapy services
  • Psychological services
  • Sign language and cued language services
  • Social and emotional services
  • Speech language pathology services
  • Transportation services
  • Vision services

This is one area where screening can help answer your question. Ask your provider for a “social-emotional development screening” if they haven’t already offered one.

There are many reasons for challenging behavior:

  • Some behavior is a normal part of development as children learn self-control and build new skills.
  • If you think your child’s challenging behavior may be the result of a traumatic experience, check out these resources and talk to your child’s pediatrician.

If you are concerned that your child might have a developmental delay or special needs, start with a screening to determine if more evaluation is needed.

A developmental screener is a way that health care and child care providers can quickly assess how your child is developing in a given area compared to other children of the same age.

Many screeners are paper or online checklists that a parent fills out about their child and gives back to a provider (i.e., a teacher, medical provider, etc.)  Developmental screeners can assess a child’s current strengths and challenges in a variety of areas, such as their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

An example of a developmental screener that looks at physical and cognitive development is the ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire). The ASQ is typically offered by a child’s pediatrician or medical provider at Well Child visits. Screenings occur frequently during a child’s first year and annually afterwards.

The ASQ asks questions about how your child is developing physically, and how they are thinking about their world and solving problems.  Some examples of questions on the ASQ for a 2-year-old are:

  • “Does your child correctly use at least two words?”
  • “If your child wants something she cannot reach, does she find a chair or box to stand on to reach it?”

An example of a developmental screener that looks at social and emotional development is the ASQ-SE (Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional).  The ASQ-SE may be given at your child’s medical office, or it may be offered by a teacher at your child’s school, or by a mental health professional.

The ASQ-SE screener evaluates the parts of a child’s development that have to do with how they relate to others and understand and manage their own thoughts and feelings.  Some examples of questions on the ASQ-SE for a 2-year-old are:

  • “Does your child cry, scream, or have tantrums for long periods of time?”
  • “Does your child like to hear stories or sing songs?”

Other screeners may be given to you at certain Well Child visits, when medical providers are screening for other areas of development or assessing whether your family needs any additional support.

For example, your medical provider may give you forms to fill out to see if you need any support with housing or other resources.  They may also ask certain questions to check for maternal postpartum depression, the impact of a traumatic situation on your child’s development, or a risk of autism.  If you have a question about a screening or questionnaire your medical provider asks you to fill out, be sure to ask.

Supporting children with a disability or developmental delay

Some families may be able to receive funds to support a child with a developmental delay or disability.

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