When the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities was enacted in 1986 under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the vision was to ensure that infants and toddlers had access to statewide, comprehensive, multidisciplinary, family-centered services to support their development. For almost four decades, California’s early intervention program, Early Start, has delivered critical services to young children with developmental delays and disabilities. Because Early Start intervenes during the early childhood period of rapid brain development, it supports the foundation for all learning, behavior, and health that follows.
Despite the importance and history of these services in our state, some parents do not know they exist, and those that do can experience access challenges while navigating our complex early childhood service delivery systems. In fact, California lags behind many other states in reaching infants and toddlers through early intervention. Furthermore, there are racial/ethnic disparities in access and per capita spending for Early Start services. These realities have far-reaching implications on both the well-being of children and costs to our education and health care systems.
To date, advocates, policymakers, families, and other stakeholders have had few resources to understand how early intervention services work in California. To support filling this gap, California Budget and Policy Center released two new reports. The first breaks down what early intervention services are, who provides such services, and how these services are funded. The second explores opportunities for program improvement. Support for these reports was provided in part by the First 5 Center for Children's Policy.
Although the 2022-2023 California state budget made a number of historic changes to Early Start that will improve our ability to meet the developmental needs of infants and toddlers, there are additional steps required to reach equity and access goals. For example, local community systems of screening and referral need to be strengthened to ensure that all children who are eligible for early intervention are identified and connected to the right supports. The California Budget and Policy Center reports help the field consider the additional policy and systems changes needed to realize sufficient service delivery for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities.
Dec 9, 2020
This webinar discusses opportunities within Medi-Cal to strengthen and expand services for young children, and highlights Help Me Grow (HMG) partnerships with health plans in several counties.
May 6, 2020
Now is a critical time to evaluate and improve California’s early identification and intervention (EII) system by leveraging the state’s existing county Help Me Grow (HMG) systems.
Kiley Barton • Oct 18, 2022
In order to better understand the landscape of how counties are serving young children with developmental concerns, we did a deep dive into available data sources. The data uncover average developmental screening rates across the state, as well as the proportion of infants and toddlers accessing Early Start services (Part C) by regional center.