VII. Procedures and Criteria for Ongoing Eligibility

Procedures for Ongoing Eligibility

The EIP is a voluntary program for parents and their children. When parents believe their child and family have made sufficient progress to no longer need early intervention services, it is appropriate to discharge the child from the program. This should be clearly documented in the child's IFSP and retained as part of the child's record. In accordance with Section 2545(8) of the PHL, if at any time the parent and the service coordinator agree in writing that the child has met all the goals set forth in the IFSP or the child is otherwise no longer in need of early intervention services, the service coordinator is required to certify that the child is no longer an eligible child.

It should be noted that achieving the outcomes stated in the IFSP may, or may not, mean that the developmental delay or other condition that established the child's eligibility has been resolved. If a parent chooses to voluntarily leave the EIP when there are continuing developmental concerns about the child, it is appropriate for the service coordinator to inform the parent about services that can be accessed in the future, including preschool special education programs and services.

Federal regulations at 34 CFR §303.322(b)(1) define the multidisciplinary evaluation as procedures used by appropriate qualified personnel to establish a child's initial and continuing eligibility for the EIP. State regulations at 10 NYCRR §69-4.8(a)(2) require that a multidisciplinary evaluation be performed to determine the child's initial and ongoing eligibility for early intervention services. State regulations at 10 NYCRR §69-4.8(12) specify the circumstances under which evaluation and assessment procedures should be performed, with parental consent, in conjunction with the annual evaluation of the IFSP or more frequently, if deemed necessary and appropriate by the EIO, under the following conditions (1) an observable change in the child's developmental status which indicates the need for a modification of the IFSP or a change in eligibility status; and (2) the parent, early intervention official or service coordinator, or service provider(s) request a reassessment at the six-month review of the IFSP.

If the child's developmental status suggests that s/he is making substantial progress, the child should be evaluated to determine whether s/he continues to be eligible for the EIP. Children who, upon their initial multidisciplinary evaluation of the program, were found to have a delay in only one area (i.e., domain) of development can make rapid progress with appropriate intervention. It is appropriate for the EIO and/or service provider, to request a re-evaluation of the child when there is an observable change in the child's developmental status that may indicate a change in eligibility status.

If it is determined that an evaluation is necessary to establish the ongoing eligibility of a child, a multidisciplinary evaluation must be performed to make this determination.70 The parent has the right to select an evaluator to conduct the multidisciplinary evaluation to determine ongoing eligibility. In most instances, a core evaluation will be sufficient to determine whether a child continues to be eligible for the EIP. As discussed in Section II of this guidance document on multidisciplinary evaluation procedures, evaluators may use findings from other current examinations, evaluations, assessments, or health assessments performed for the child, with parent consent, as part of the evaluation process. Parents should be encouraged to provide the evaluator with access to all of the child's recent EIP records, including any annual evaluations and/or assessments conducted during the child's participation in the EIP. This will ensure that children and their families are not required to undergo procedures that are unnecessary or duplicative.

If there is a question about the child's ongoing eligibility for the EIP, and the parent refuses to consent to a multidisciplinary evaluation to establish the child's ongoing eligibility, ongoing eligibility has not been established and the child is no longer an eligible child. The EIO must provide the parent with written notice ten working days before the EIO proposes to discharge the child from the EIP. The notice must be in sufficient detail to inform the parent about the action that is being proposed, the reasons for taking such action, and all procedural safeguards available under the EIP, including the right to a mediation or impartial hearing on the child's ongoing eligibility for the EIP.71

All multidisciplinary evaluations, whether conducted to establish initial or ongoing eligibility, should be conducted in accordance with the requirements included in the PHL, regulations, and standards and procedures document. In addition, evaluators are responsible for adhering to recognized professional standards of practice, including use and scoring of clinical procedures and standardized instruments, when conducting evaluations under the EIP.

It is important for evaluators to recognize and understand: 1) the necessity of documenting clearly the evidence that supports ongoing eligibility determinations under the EIP, including the use of standardized instruments and informed clinical opinion; and, 2) that such documentation is subject to monitoring (which could include clinical record reviews) by municipal and state representatives.

Criteria for Ongoing Eligibility

The following criteria should be used to establish whether a child continues to be eligible for the EIP upon a re-evaluation conducted, with parent consent, as part of the annual evaluation of the IFSP, or at the request of the EIO, parent, or service provider(s):

  1. The child continues to meet the criteria used to establish initial eligibility for the EIP (developmental delay consistent with the State definition; or the presence of an unresolved or emergent diagnosed physical or mental condition with a high probability of resulting in developmental delay).
  2. The child has made sufficient developmental progress and is no longer experiencing a delay in development to the extent required for initial eligibility; however, s/he continues to experience a developmental delay in one or more developmental domains and is not yet within normal developmental range. As measured on a standardized, norm-referenced test, a child who has a score of between 2 standard deviations below the mean and 1 standard deviation below the mean in one or more areas of development would still be eligible to participate in the EIP. As an example only, if the mean score on a particular test is 100 and the standard deviation is 15, a child with a standard score of between 70 and 85, or a percentile score of between 2.14 and 16, would still be eligible for the EIP. Standardized tests should be used whenever there are such instruments appropriate for use with the child. As discussed previously in "A Special Note on Standardized Evaluation and Assessment Instruments," standardized tests must be used and scored as specified in the test manual.

    If there are no standardized tests available and appropriate for the child's language/culture and developmental concern, the evaluator must provide sufficient documentation that, based on procedures and methods used to evaluate the child, the child continues to be experiencing developmental delays in one or more areas of development and is not within normal developmental range.

The following criteria should be used to establish that a child is no longer eligible for the EIP and must exit the program:

  1. The child is no longer age-eligible for the program and does not meet the eligibility criteria for special education programs and services.
  2. The child continues to be age-eligible for early intervention services, and development is within the normal range. If measured using clinical procedures and methods, the child who is demonstrating developmental milestones within the range expected for his/her age and for whom there are no documented clinical clues or indicators of a continuing problem is no longer an eligible child. As measured on a standardized norm-referenced test, a child who has a standard score within on standard deviation of the mean in all areas of development is no longer an eligible child. As an example only, if the mean score on a particular test is 100 and the standard deviation is 15, a child with a standard score of between 85 and 100, or a percentile score of between 16 and 50, in all areas of development is within normal range and no longer is eligible for the EIP. Standardized tests should be used whenever there are such instruments appropriate for use with the child. As discussed previously in "A Special Note on Standardized Evaluation and Assessment Instruments," standardized tests must be used and scored as specified in the test manual.
  3. A change in the status of a diagnosis for a child found eligible based on a diagnosed physical or mental condition with a high probability of resulting in delay, as documented by an appropriately qualified medical/clinical professional (for example, resolution of failure to thrive; resolution of delays/impairments associated with extreme prematurity; resolution of delays/impairments associated with cleft palate). In general, this category would apply only in circumstances where the condition is associated with age (e.g., prematurity) or a physical condition that can be ameliorated with medical/surgical treatment provided through the health care system combined with developmental-rehabilitative services provided through the EIP.

As referenced in Section V of this document, PHL §2541(8) provides that any toddler who has been found eligible for program services under section 4410 of education law shall, if requested by the parent, be eligible to continue to receive early intervention services contained in an IFSP for a prescribed period of time on and after the child's third birthday. It is important to note if a child is evaluated by a committee on preschool education (CPSE) before age three, and is found ineligible for services under section 4410 of education law, such a determination does not necessarily mean that the child does not meet ongoing eligibility criteria for the Early Intervention Program. To be eligible for preschool special education services, a child must exhibit a significant delay or disability in one or more functional areas related to cognitive, language and communicative, adaptive, social or emotional or motor development that adversely affects the student's ability to learn.72 Therefore, a child may continue to experience a developmental delay in one or more areas that meets either the initial or ongoing eligibility criteria for the EIP, and a CPSE may determine the child does not qualify for preschool special education programs and services. Under these circumstances, since the child meets the criteria for ongoing eligibility under the EIP, the child is eligible to continue to receive early intervention services until his/her development is within normal limits, or until his/her third birthday, whichever is first.

If a child is evaluated by the CPSE and is found to be within normal limits in all areas of development, and the parent and the service coordinator agree that all goals in the IFSP have been met, the service coordinator can certify that the child is no longer an eligible child.73 However, if the parent does not agree that all goals in the IFSP have been met when the CPSE evaluation indicates the child has made substantial progress, the EIO should request a re-evaluation of the child to determine whether the child continues to eligible for the EIP. As previously discussed, the parent has the right to select an evaluator to conduct the multidisciplinary evaluation to determine ongoing eligibility. The parent should be encouraged to provide the evaluator with access to all of the child's recent EIP records, and to the evaluation conducted by the CPSE. If the parent does not consent to the evaluation, ongoing eligibility has not been established and the child is no longer an eligible child. The EIO must provide the parent with written notice ten working days before the EIO proposes to discharge the child from the EIP. The notice must be in sufficient detail to inform the parent about the action that is being proposed, the reasons for taking such action; and, all procedural safeguards available under the EIP, including the right to a mediation or impartial hearing on the child's ongoing eligibility for the EIP.74

A transition plan must be developed for all children who exit the EIP, which may include transition to preschool special education programs and services, or other early childhood supports and services as needed by the child and family.75 The transition plan should describe the steps to be taken to discharge the child from the EIP, which may include a plan for developmental surveillance as needed, or other appropriate services to assist the child and family after they exit the EIP. The service coordinator is responsible for assisting the parent in identifying, locating and accessing other early childhood and supportive services that may be needed by the child and family. The service coordinator is responsible for incorporating the transition plan into the IFSP, with parent consent.

70 10 NYCRR §69-4.8(a)(2)
71 10 NYCRR §69-4.17
72 Part 200 Regulations of the Commissioner of Education
73 PHL § 2545(8)
74 10 NYCRR §69-4.17
75 10 NYCRR §69-4.20(a)

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