First Steps

Step 1: Make a referral

Anyone can make a referral to Colorado's Early Intervention system including doctors, childcare providers, neighbors, or family members. However, the family’s consent to continue in the process of accessing supports and services is required.
An infant or toddler should be referred if they have:

  • A suspected significant developmental delay in one or more developmental area(s): cognitive, adaptive, communication, social/emotional, and/or physical (including vision, hearing)
  • A diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a significant developmental delay.


Click here to make a referral outside of Colorado


Step 2: Get a free evaluation

When there are concerns about a child’s development, he or she is referred to an Early Intervention Program like Community Connections’ Southwest Kids (for Montezuma and Dolores counties) or San Juan Kids (for La Plata, San Juan, and Archuleta counties).  The Service Coordinator contacts the family and together they establish a time to meet and assess the needs of the child.

A home visit (or any place in the community the family chooses) takes place. At this initial meeting the role of the Service Coordinator is to establish a relationship with the family as the main contact person for all questions and concerns, to introduce the family to the available supports and services, to help assess the child’s development and to advise the family of their legal rights and entitlements.

An evaluation of the child’s development is completed by the appropriate therapist: physical, occupational, speech, etc., who meet with the family. Usually a child will be evaluated by 2 different disciplines to see the overall development of a child. The family is always involved in the evaluation process because the family members are the ones who know the child best.

Step 3: Determining if the child is eligible for services


An infant or toddler may receive early intervention services if: the family lives in Colorado; the child is under 3 years of age; the child meets the eligibility criteria for Colorado's Early Intervention system


The eligibility criteria are:

1. Children birth to three years of age with a significant delay in development in one or more areas of development are eligible (children who are believed to be delayed in one or more of these areas will need to have an evaluation to determine initial eligibility). Areas of development are:

  • Babbling / Talking (communication) 
  • Moving around (physical / motor) 
  • Hearing / Vision (sensory) 
  • Play Skills / Learning (cognition) 
  • Behavioral concerns / Interacting with others (social emotional) 
  • Self-Help Skills (adaptive development)


2. Children birth to three years of age with a diagnosed physical or medical condition that is typically associated with delays in development are eligible.  Children with such conditions are eligible even when they are not exhibiting delays in development at the time of diagnosis, and do not need to have an evaluation to determine eligibility - they are eligible because of their diagnoses.  Examples of such conditions include:

  • Chromosomal syndromes and conditions (such as Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Chromosomal deletions and duplications)
  • Congenital syndromes and conditions (such as Spina Bifida, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Central Nervous System malformations)
  • Sensory impairments (like hearing or visual impairments)
  • Metabolic disorders (such as hypothyroidism [untreated], Lipidoses)
  • Prenatal and perinatal infections resulting in significant medical problems (like HIV, intrauterine exposure to toxic substances, Cerebral Palsy, Meningitis)
  • Low birth weight infants weighing less than 1,200 grams (less than 2 lbs., 10oz.)
  • Postnatal acquired problems resulting in delays in development (including severe attachment disorder)


Step 4: Creating a Plan Together


After the evaluation, if the child is determined to be eligible, a meeting is set to complete the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). This is a form to be completed by the family, the service coordinator, the therapist(s), and sometimes the director of Community Connections—for funding purposes. The purpose of this IFSP is to establish guidelines and goals with the family for a six month period with subsequent reviews of goals every six months thereafter, until the child turns three. Whenever there is a question, simply phone your Service Coordinator at Community Connections.

Once the child reaches their third birthday, if they still require services they will transition to services with their local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). Community Connections is involved to assist and support families with this transition.

At any given time a family has the right to decline services or request that things are done to their satisfaction. Everyone involved is working together to be supportive of children and their families and the services available are free of charge, regardless of income. 

Early Intervention (EI)