Birth to Five Years: Getting Services

There are 3 main ways to obtain services for your child:

Health Insurance varies widely depending on your policy, however some therapies such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy may be covered through your insurance. We suggest you read your policy carefully to determine coverage, or call your insurer to discuss your options.

Children, from birth to 36 months, with developmental delays qualify for the Early Start program. In California this federally mandated program is administered through the Department of Developmental Services which contracts with 21 Regional Centers throughout California.

FAQ About the Early Start Program

Often the hospital or your child’s doctor will make the referral to Regional Center; however parents can make a self-referral to request an evaluation by contacting the Regional Center that services their area. Once a referral to Regional Center has been made, a service coordinator will arrange for an assessment of your child to determine eligbility and develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) based on your child’s needs. The Regional Center may require a denial letter from your health insurance company before providing some services.

After age 3, responsibility for services shifts from Regional Center to your local school district. Keep in mind that school districts only provide services that relate to your child’s educational environment, so some services may change once your child transitions from Regional Center to the school district. Also, when your child reaches age 3, Regional Center may determine that since your child has outgrown the Early Start program that they no longer remain eligibility under Regional Center’s rules. PWCF strongly recommends that parents do not let the Regional Center close your child’s case. PWCF will assist you in providing documentation to Regional Center in order to maintain eligibility.

Of course parents always have the option to privately pay for any or all therapies that their children need. Some parents choose to privately pay for additional therapy or for therapy that is not covered elsewhere.

Make Connections

PWCF maintains online and in-person Support Groups for parents and professionals.

PWSA (USA) maintains several Facebook support groups.