Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)

What's Required
The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C of IDEA) is a federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth through age 2 years, and their families.

Congress established this program in 1986 in recognition of "an urgent and substantial need" to:

  • enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities;
  • reduce educational costs by minimizing the need for special education through early intervention;
  • minimize the likelihood of institutionalization, and maximize independent living; and,
  • enhance the capacity of families to meet their child's needs.

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a statewide program for families with children birth up to age 3, with developmental delays, disabilities or certain medical diagnoses that may impact development. ECI services support families as they learn how to help their children grow and learn.

What We Do

To ensure the highest quality of service delivery to families, ECI has adopted the following Seven Key Principles from the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. These principles, developed by a national team of early childhood intervention experts, serve as the foundation of practice guidelines for ECI service providers statewide.
  • Infants and toddlers learn best through everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts.
  • All families, with the necessary supports and resources, can enhance their children’s learning and development.
  • The primary role of a service provider in early intervention is to work with and support family members and caregivers in children’s lives.
  • The early intervention process, from initial contacts through transition, must be dynamic and individualized to reflect the child’s and family members’ preferences, learning styles, and cultural beliefs.
  • Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) outcomes must be functional and based on children’s and families’ needs and family-identified priorities.
  • The family’s priorities, needs, and interests are addressed most appropriately by a primary provider who represents and receives team and community support.
  • Interventions with young children and family members must be based on explicit principles, validated practices, best available research, and relevant laws and regulations.
How is ECI determined

Through either the Texas Health and Human Services or Easter Seals of Greater Houston, a c
hild is evaluated using the BDI-2 to determine eligibility. If the child qualifies for services, the team identifies the family's daily routines and the child's strength and needs. 
Based on the results of the evaluation and assessment, the team develops a plan for services, also known as the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), evaluations, assessments and IFSPs are provided at no cost to parents.

Services are based on the needs and concerns of each family and child. ECI professionals and family members incorporate activities into daily routines to promote the child's development.
  •  Though most ECI services are provided at home, they can be provided in other places where the child goes regularly, such as a childcare center, park, library or other community setting.
  • Service coordinators help families access and receive the services, resources and supports they need to support their child's development. Supports include helping the child and family transition to special education services or other options, as appropriate for children exiting ECI at age 3. ECI provides comprehensive case management for all members of the child's family as their needs relate to the child's growth and development.
  • ECI services end when the child turns 3. Well before that time, the ECI team, including the family, decides on next steps. Children may transition to public school, preschool, Head Start, childcare centers or other community activities and programs or they may stay home with their family. For children who need further intervention services the goal is a smooth transition with no service gaps.