State of Illinois
Department of Human Services
Referring a Child to Early Intervention
A guide to help community partners refer children to receive supports and services provided by local Child and Family Connections office.
What Is Early Intervention?
Early Intervention (EI) is a statewide program that provides supports and services for families to help their children less than 36-months old meet developmental milestones.
EI services may include:
- Assistive technology
- Audiology/aural rehabilitation
- Developmental therapy/special instruction
- Family training and support
- Health consultation
- Medical services (only for diagnostic or evaluation purposes)
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Psychological/counseling services
- Service coordination
- Sign language or cued language
- Social work
- Speech language pathology
- Translation/interpretation to other languages
The delivery of these services should meet the child's and family's preferences, learning styles, and cultural beliefs.
Who should refer a child?
Although anyone can refer a child to the Early Intervention (EI) Program, primary referral sources* are required by federal law to make referrals to the child's local Child and Family Connections (CFC) office no more than five (5) working days after a potentially eligible child is identified. Primary referral sources include, but are not limited to:
- Hospitals, including perinatal and post-natal care facilities;
- Child care programs and early learning programs, including Early Head Start programs;
- Local educational agencies and schools;
- Public health facilities;
- Other social services agencies;
- Other clinics and health care providers;
- Public agencies and staff in the child welfare system, including child protective service and foster care;
- Homeless family shelters; and
- Domestic violence shelters and agencies.
EI is voluntary and it is up to the family to decide whether they want to participate in the program.
*identified in 89 Sec., Admin: Code 500.25(b)
and required by federal rule, 34 CFR §303.303.
How can you help?
You have a trusted relationship with families and can provide support for families by:
1 Providing access to developmental screenings and discussing the child's developmental strengths and concerns.
2 Talking to the family about the need
for a referral to EI, if there are developmental concerns.
3 Faxing or phoning the referral to your local CFC within five business days and support the family throughout their EI journey. For referral form and CFC information, visit:
What are the next steps after a referral is made?
The family will meet with a Service Coordinator to talk about their concerns for their child.
The family will meet with service providers to help evaluate their child's development and to determine whether the child is eligible for EI supports and services.
If the child is eligible for EI, the family will work with a team to develop a plan for supports and services.
If a child's date of birth falls between May 1 and August 31, he or she may be eligible for services through the beginning of the school year following their third birthday. The Service Coordinator will provide additional information if this is an option.
To be eligible, a child...
1 Must be under 36 months of age,
2 Have a physician's diagnosis of a physical
or mental condition that causes a developmental delay,
Have an identifiable developmental delay of 30% or more in one or more areas of development,
Be at risk for substantial developmental delay because of certain risk factors.
What does Early Intervention Cost?
Free evaluations determine eligibility for EI supports and services. Planning and coordinating services for an eligible child and family are always free.
EI supports and services are paid by a variety of funding sources including the EI Program, the family's private or public (such as Medicaid or All Kids) insurance. Some families may be charged a fee based on their family's size and income. The EI Program does not require proof of immigration status.
How Do I Learn More?
For more information or to refer your child to the Illinois EI Program, call your local CFC office. To find your local CFC office, please visit the IDHS Office Locator at:
Or call the IDHS Helpline at
1-866-324-5553 TTY/Nextalk, 711 TTY Relay
Information is available in English and Spanish,
to get an EI referral toolkit.
For more details about the Illinois EI Program,
see A Guide for Families at
Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.
DHS 4270 (R-05-22) Early Intervention Program Printed by Authority of the State of Illinois P.O.#22-1085 10,000 Copies