The Early Start program, which provides early intervention in a coordinated, family-centered system for infants aged birth to three, has experienced a decline in referrals since the beginning of the State of Emergency. As you know, early intervention is critical for children to achieve the best possible developmental outcomes.
In partnership with the regional centers, California’s local educational agencies provide services to infants and toddlers with solely low incidence (SLI) disabilities to assist in the development of speech, language, and orthopedic skills that prepare students to begin school with their peer groups.
There are two ways to help submit referrals to Early Start:
- If an infant or toddler has, or is suspected of having, a delay or disability, please contact the local regional or family resource center about possible Early Start services on the following Department of Developmental Services Early Start Intake web page at https://www.dds.ca.gov/services/early-start/family-resource-center/regional-center-early-start-intake-and-family-resource-centers/ or by phone at 1-800-515-BABY (2229).
- If an infant or toddler has, or is suspected of having, an SLI disability, please contact the school district of residence to access Early Education Program resources and services or your local Special Education Local Plan Area Office. Contact information for California school districts can be found on the California Department of Education School Directory website at https://www.cde.ca.gov/schooldirectory/. Contact information for the Special Education Local Plan Area Offices can be found on the California Department of Education California Special Education Local Plan Areas web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/as/caselpas.asp.
All 21 regional centers across California remain open and are accepting referrals to the Early Start program, although some regional center staff may be working remotely and not holding face-to-face meetings in their offices.
For more information, as well as other publications and resources, please visit the Department of Developmental Services Early Start Program website at https://www.dds.ca.gov/services/early-start/.
If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the Special Education Division by email at PPL@cde.ca.gov.