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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 development, a child can be referred to an Early Intervention program. In La Plata, Montezuma, Dolores, San Juan and Archuleta counties they would be referred to Community Connections Early Intervention Program.  Once a referral is received the family is assigned a Service Coordinator who contacts them and explains how the program works, their safeguards, rights, and entitlements and funding sources. There is never a charge for Early Intervention Services.  If the parent or caregiver wants to move forward, an intake call is scheduled when the Service Coordinator asks about concerns about their child’s development, his current abilities, demographics. problems during pregnancy and delivery and other pertinent information to help the evaluation team to have a better picture of the child and family before the evaluation occurs.

The Service Coordinator arranges for an evaluation to determine what the percentage of delay is as compared to other children of the same age. This evaluation is performed by at least two licensed therapists of different domains who consider the whole child while playing with him and asking the parents or caregivers questions that help in their determination of level of delay. This evaluation can take place in the family home, a pre-school or childcare, or wherever the family feels most comfortable.

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. Should read: Children birth to three years of age who have been evaluated and show a delay in any area of development greater than 25% as compared to other children the same age are eligible to receive Early Intervention services.


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


If the child is found to be eligible for Early Intervention services, an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed with input from the family or caregiver, Service Coordinator and most likely provider.  This plan identifies times of the day when the delay in development is impacting the child’s ability to join in family routines and prioritizes the outcomes the family would like to work on to assure their child is reaching his or her potential.  IFSPs are reviewed every 6 months until the child turns three. Providers such as Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists, among others, are then assigned to the family to provide strategies for them to work on throughout the day to help their children achieve their identified outcomes.

Before the child turns three, a transition plan is developed to inform parents of the requirements to continue services through San Juan BOCES or School District 9-R, the changes they can expect and the options they have.

Families can opt out of any of these steps at any time by contacting their Service Coordinator.  Their Service Coordinator will help assure that the services they are receiving meet their expectations.  Service Coordinators are also the go-to person for families to turn to with questions and/or concerns throughout their time in Early Intervention.

Early Intervention (EI)