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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 6, Lesson 1

Eligibility Determination

Some infants are diagnosed in the neonatal period with a condition or impairment. Other infants and toddlers receive a diagnosis after a thorough examination by health professionals. The established conditions that make a child eligible for Part C services in Florida include genetic and metabolic disorders, sensory impairments (vision and hearing), neurological conditions such as seizures and brain trauma, and severe attachment disorders such as autism.

baby on pillowChildren with established conditions that have been diagnosed by a medical doctor or in the case of attachment disorders by a psychologist or psychiatrist are automatically eligible for Part C services. An eligibility evaluation by the Early Steps team is not necessary, only an assessment to plan interventions is required. On the other hand, if there is not an established condition, the child must be evaluated to see if there is a developmental delay.

In the state of Florida the eligibility criteria for Part C is that a child has a score of 1½ standard deviations below the mean on a norm-referenced test in one area of development. If one of the State approved norm-referenced instruments cannot be administered, the child must be made eligible using a criterion referenced instrument and the eligibility score would need to document a 25 % delay in at least one area of development.

State Approved Instruments

The State approved instruments for screening are:

  • Ages & Stages Questionnaires
  • Early Learning Accomplishment Profile
  • Birth to Three Screener

The State approved instruments used for eligibility evaluation are norm- referenced and include:

  • Battelle Developmental Inventory II (BDI-2) - both norm and criterion-referenced
  • Developmental Assessment of Young Children (DAYC)
  • Birth to Three System

Note: A criterion-referenced test can be used as a substitute for eligibility determination when the norm-referenced instruments are deemed inappropriate by the team. For example, a child may have a developmental condition that was not included in the normative sample for the standardization of the test. The team may then decide that if the child were assessed using the norm-referenced test, he/she would be compared to a normative group that was not representative of a child with this condition and the criterion referenced test would be preferred.

The State approved instruments for conducting assessments for intervention planning are criterion-referenced instruments including:

  • Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP)
  • Early Learning Accomplishment Profile (E-LAP)
  • Assessment, Evaluation and Programming System (AEPS)
  • Battelle Developmental Inventory II (BDI-2)

Other instruments used by specific disciplines to more accurately capture the diagnosis and plan the intervention strategies are needed when a child has multiple problems. Sometimes evaluation and assessment instruments must be used that are specific to the suspected problems for the individual infant or toddler. As examples, specific instruments may be needed for infants and toddlers who have hearing or visual impairments or when only a delay in communication is the concern.

ITDS Role in Testing

mother and child carving pumpkinThe ITDS becomes a member of the team when the ITDS' disciplinary expertise, education, and experience are suited to meet the concerns expressed by the parents or caregivers for their child during First Contacts. If the ITDS does not have specific expertise in the area of concern, other professionals who provide the intervention for specific populations should be consulted to participate with the team in the evaluation, assessment for intervention planning, and for the interventions. The ITDS must perform within their accepted scope of practice (a set of knowledge and skills required for the profession) identified in Florida by demonstration of the achievement of competencies approved by the Early Steps State Office. Please refer to the service delivery model for Early Steps.


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