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Early intervention services are designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or disability and their families. Sometimes it is known from the moment a child is born that early intervention services will be essential in helping the child grow and develop. Families whose infants are identified with hearing loss through hospital screening and follow-up at birth, or for children who develop a hearing loss before the age of three should be directed to their state’s early intervention services through their Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program. See a listing of EHDI programs in each state.

For infants and toddlers (ages birth to three years) these early intervention services are provided through the U.S. federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C. Services for very young children, from birth to the 3rd birthday (and sometimes beyond), are called Early Intervention or Part C services (so named for where they are described in IDEA). (Source: Center for Parent Information and Resources)

Part C Services considerations for parents with a child who is deaf or hard of hearing

Because hearing loss is a low-incidence disability (meaning it is rare in comparison to other disabilities), eligibility for assistance under Part C can be unclear to professionals who do not have expertise in deafness. It is often up to parents to ensure that the child is appropriately evaluated and that the unique considerations of hearing loss are addressed and met. These include:

  • The decisions the family makes for communicating with their child
  • Assistive technology (hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems, etc.)
  • Family training, counseling and home visits (families should be supported as the primary language teachers for their children)
  • Family support networks
  • Family Service Coordinator – this is one of the family’s primary collaborators. According to IDEA Part C, the family service coordinator should be “from the profession most immediately relevant to the infant’s, toddler’s or family’s needs.”
  • Qualified, knowledgeable service providers who have expertise, training, experience and certification (if appropriate) in assessing and working with infants and toddlers who are deaf and hard of hearing, specifically in the child’s/family’s chosen communication option if known or selected.

Many of these considerations can be addressed through the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).

IDEA -Part C Resources for Parents and Professionals

Overview of Early Intervention Services (Esta información también está en español):


  • What is early intervention?
  • Who's eligible?
  • What is a developmental delay?
  • You're concerned about a baby or toddler's development
  • The evaluation and assessment process
  • Writing the IFSP
  • Timeframes for all of this
  • Who pays for the services?

Additional information about IDEA Part C

What is an IFSP

Find services in your state for infants and toddlers (Esta información también está en español):

Transitioning to Part B and an Individualized Education Program (IEP)