Early Childhood Intervention Services

What is ECI and Who Can Get Help?

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a statewide program within the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for families with children from birth to 36 months 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.

How Does My Child Qualify for Services?

To be eligible for ECI services your child must meet one of the following three criteria:

Medically Diagnosed Condition

If your child has a medically diagnosed condition that is likely to cause a developmental delay and has a need for services, they qualify for ECI services. You can find a list of medically qualifying diagnoses by using the HHS ECI Qualifying Diagnosis Search. Medical records must be provided to confirm the diagnosis.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing or Blind or Visually Impaired

A child who has been identified as deaf or hard of hearing or as blind or visually impaired, as defined by the Texas Education Agency, qualifies for ECI. This is determined by a team that includes certified staff from your local independent school district.

Developmental Delay

A child who has a developmental delay of at least 25% in one or more areas of development — social/emotional, adaptive and self-help, communication, motor or cognition — qualifies for ECI services. If the only delay is expressive language development, there must be a 33% delay to qualify initially.

Your child will be evaluated to find out the nature and extent of their abilities and strengths, delays or difficulties.

If your child is 4 or older, they may be eligible for services from your local school district. The Texas Education Agency can provide you with information about special education services. You can make a referral for assessment by contacting the director of special education for your local school district.

How Are Services Determined?

A team of qualified staff use a state-approved evaluation tool to determine whether your child is eligible for services. If your child qualifies for services, the team identifies your child's strengths and needs in each of your family’s daily routines.

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, evaluations, assessments and IFSPs are provided at no cost to parents.

How Are Services Provided?

  • Family-centered services: 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.
  • Familiar settings: ECI providers work with the child and family where they live, learn and play. 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.
  • Case management: 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 enrolled child's growth and development.
  • Planning for next steps: 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, child care 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.

Who Provides the Services?

A team of licensed or credentialed providers evaluates the child and plans and provides services. The team may include:

  • Early intervention specialists
  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Registered nurses
  • Dietitians
  • Social workers
  • Counselors

How Do I Find My ECI Program?

You can search for the ECI program in your area by using the ECI Program Search tool.

How Do I Pay for Services?

ECI asks families who can afford to do so to share in the cost of services. This is called the Family Cost Share. The amount a family pays for services is determined using a sliding-fee scale and is based on family size and income, after allowable deductions. No child or family will be turned away because of an inability to pay.

The following services are provided at no cost:

  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Case management
  • IFSP development
  • Translation and interpreter services, including sign language

These initial services help identify your child's strengths and needs, as well as locate resources to meet those needs. You will be asked for permission to bill your insurance or your child's insurance for these services.

Learn More About Family Cost Share

How Can I Learn More About Insurance?