What is ECI?

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a statewide program within the Texas Health and Human Services Commission 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.

Who Can Get Help?

ECI serves children from birth to 36 months with a developmental delay or disability.

How Does My Child Qualify for Services?

To be eligible for ECI services your child must meet one of the following 3 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, he or she will qualify for ECI services. HHS has a list of diagnoses that are medically qualifying. Medical records must be provided to confirm the diagnoses.

Auditory or Visual Impairment

A child who has an auditory or visual impairment as defined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) 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 percent in 1 or more areas of development –social emotional, self-help, communication, motor functions or cognitive skills – qualifies for ECI services. If the only delay is expressive language development, there must be a 33 percent delay to qualify.

Your child will be evaluated to find out the nature and extent of his or her abilities, delays or difficulties. The team uses a tool called the Battelle Developmental Inventory 2nd edition; (BDI-2) to gather information in each of the developmental areas.

If your child is older than age 3, he or she might be eligible for services from your local school district. The Texas Education Agency can provide you with information about special education services. A referral for assessment may be made by contacting the director of special education for your local school district.

How Are Services Determined?

Your child is evaluated using the BDI-2 to determine eligibility. If your child qualifies for services, the team identifies your family's daily routines and your child's strength and needs.

Based on the results of the evaluation and assessment, your 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.

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: 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 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, 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.

Who Provides the Services?

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

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

Where are Services Provided?

ECI providers work with the child and family where they live, learn and play. Services are provided in the home and in the community, which could include child care facilities, grocery stores, parks and restaurants.

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 may be asked for permission to bill your or your child's insurance for these services.

Do you have questions about how your child under age 3 is growing or developing?

Visit the ECI Program Search page to find the local program in your area or call the HHS Office of the Ombudsman at 1-877-787-8999, select a language, then select Option 3.