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What is Early Intervention?

Massachusetts Early Intervention (EI) is a program for children from birth to age 3 who have developmental delays or are at risk of a developmental delay. EI services are meant to help support families and caregivers, and to enhance the development and learning of infants and toddlers through individualized, developmentally appropriate activities within the child’s and family’s everyday life.

Early Intervention supports children to:

  • develop positive social-emotional skills (building relationships)
  • gain knowledge and skills (learning)
  • use appropriate behaviors to meet their needs (developing independence)

And EI helps families to:

  • know their rights
  • communicate their child’s needs
  • help their children develop and learn

Who is eligible for services?

Based upon a developmental assessment, children birth to three may be eligible for early intervention services if the child:

  • is not reaching age-appropriate milestones
  • is diagnosed with certain conditions
  • has a medical or social history which may put the child at risk for a developmental delay

Boston Children’s Hospital Early Intervention is one of five programs that serve families who reside in Boston (excluding East Boston and Charlestown) or Brookline.

If you live outside of this area, please click the link below to find your local EI program:

  • https://www.massfamilyties.org/#EI
  • https://www.mass.gov/orgs/early-intervention-division

What will my visit look like?

During your visit, you, your child and your Early Intervention Specialist will:

  • • Learn about things your family does every day, such as eating meals, baths or a trip to the grocery store. Are these things easy? Are they hard? How does your child do these things with you?
  • • Come up with strategies to support Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) outcomes.
  • • Help you discover ways to practice skills in your daily activities.
  • • Help make sure you and your child are feeling confident learning new skills while enjoying the activities you do as a family.

Why do we do visits this way?

Massachusetts Early Intervention uses research to guide our visits. We focus on three concepts in our work with families:

  • Infants and toddlers learn best through lots of practice during daily activities.
  • You have the greatest impact on your child’s progress. You are with your child every day. Early Intervention is only with your family for a short time.
  • The EI Specialist supports your relationship with your child.
  • We use the principles from Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) to guide our visits. PIWI helps parents and caregivers as well as infants and toddlers feel good about what they are doing together and individually. Massachusetts EI wants children and families to be active and successful in all they do throughout their lives.

What services do we offer?

  • developmental evaluations
  • individual therapy sessions
  • developmental play groups
  • parent support groups

These are some of the specialty services offered:

  • vision
  • hearing
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • regional consultation program

Learn more here.

Is there a cost?

There are no direct costs for families. Services are paid for by insurance or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Contact us

More resources

  • Early Intervention
  • Early Intervention Massachusetts
  • Zero to Three
  • Speech Development Chart
  • Family Ties
  • Autism Spectrum Center Resources
  • Federation for Children with Special Needs
  • Speech-Language Pathology Program
  • Developmental Medicine Program
  • https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html