Early-Intervention Services in Indiana

Q&A with Rich Burden, Executive Director, IN*SOURCE

INSOURCE - the Indiana Resource Center for families with Special Needs
Logo courtesy of INSOURCE

In Indiana, children under three years of age who have developmental delays may be eligible for early-intervention services through a program called First Steps. I asked Rich Burden, executive director of IN*SOURCE in South Bend, to give us a quick overview of early intervention in Indiana and suggest some things parents can do to get started.

Who should a parent contact to ask about early-intervention services?

Contact First Steps, Indiana's provider of early-intervention services, at 800-441-STEP or online at www.in.gov/fssa/ddrs/2633.htm.

Families with concerns about early intervention may also contact IN*SOURCE, Indiana's resource center for families with special needs, at 800-332-4433. Indiana's Early Childhood Comprehensive System, Sunny Start, provides information and support to families of children age birth to five and their providers.

What does early intervention look like in Indiana?

Early-intervention services in Indiana are provided by First Steps to infants and children less than three years old who have disabilities or who are developmentally vulnerable. Services are most often provided at home but can be provided in a child-care setting, or in a clinical setting in some cases. Each child's Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) determines the types of services he will receive, the location, and the frequency. [Download an IFSP form.]

Do you have any advice for parents about early-intervention services?

Parents can have a medical professional refer their child to First Steps, but parents also can refer their child themselves.

Parents with any concerns about their infant or toddler should contact First Steps for an assessment; the assessment will determine your child's needs and eligibility.

How does the transition between early intervention and special education work?

A child's First Steps team will meet with the family before the child turns three to discuss the transition process.

The local school district will participate in these meetings with the parent's approval. Transition information meetings also are available. First Steps will conduct any necessary evaluations and provide the IFSP, reports, and evaluations to the child's school system at least six months before the child's third birthday to assist in the school's evaluation of the child for special-education services. Evaluation for eligibility and, if eligible, an IEP must be in place by the child's third birthday.

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About IN*SOURCE: The mission of IN*SOURCE is to provide parents, families, and service providers in Indiana the information and training necessary to assure effective educational programs and appropriate services for children and young adults with disabilities. IN*SOURCE provides parent-to-parent support to parents with questions and concerns about special education through phone consultation, case conference committee support, and regular training and education opportunities. At www.insource.org, parents can use the staff directory to locate the regional program specialist who provides parent-to-parent support in their area.

Parents also can view extensive IN*SOURCE training opportunities about topics related to special education, both online and throughout the state. For more information and interaction, parents can connect with an online community and find ways to get involved through volunteering and contributing.

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