TITLE 14

Education

Free Public Schools

CHAPTER 31A. Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Program

§ 3101A. Short title.

This chapter may be cited as the “Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Act.”

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3102A. Purpose.

(a) The General Assembly finds that early intervention services are cost-effective and effectively serve the developmental needs of eligible infants and toddlers and their families. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a comprehensive, coordinated, interagency, interdisciplinary early intervention services system for eligible infants and toddlers and their families that enhances the capacity to provide quality early intervention services, expand and improve existing services, and facilitate the coordination of payments for early intervention services from various public and private sources.

(b) The specific purposes of this chapter are to do all of the following:

(1) Enhance the development of all eligible infants and toddlers in the State in order to minimize developmental delay and enhance individual potential for adult independence.

(2) Reduce educational costs by minimizing the need for special education and related services after infants and toddlers reach school age by identifying children eligible for early intervention services at a younger age.

(3) Enhance opportunities for inclusion in the community of eligible children and their families.

(4) Enhance the capacity of families to meet the individual needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities.

(5) Enact regulations and fully implement the infants and toddlers program established under the IDEA, including all of the following:

a. Affirm the importance of the family in all areas of the child’s development and reinforce the role of the family as a participant in the decision-making processes regarding their child.

b. Identify and coordinate all available resources for early intervention within the State including those from federal, state, local, and private sources.

c. Affirm that eligible infants and toddlers with disabilities have a right to receive early intervention services to the maximum extent appropriate, in natural environments in which infants and toddlers without disabilities would participate.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3103A. Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter:

(1) “Collaborating agencies” means the Department of Health and Social Services, Department of Education, and Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.

(2) “Department” means the Department of Education.

(3) “Developmental delay” means a significant delay in 1 or more of the following developmental domains:

a. Cognition.

b. Communication, expressive or receptive.

c. Physical, including hearing or vision.

d. Social emotional functioning.

e. Adaptive behavior.

(4) Early intervention service means a service that meets all of the following:

a. Is provided under public supervision.

b. Is provided at no cost except where federal or state law provides for a system of payments by families, including a schedule of sliding fees.

c. Is designed to meet the developmental needs of each eligible child with a developmental delay and the needs of the family related to enhancing the development of their child.

d. Meets all applicable federal and state standards.

e. Is provided by an early intervention service provider.

f. Is provided in conformity with an individualized family service plan adopted under § 3107A of this title and are selected in collaboration with the parent or guardian.

g. Are provided, to the maximum extent appropriate, in natural environments including the home and community settings in which children without disabilities participate.

h. Includes any of the following:

1. Family training.

2. Special instruction.

3. Speech language pathology and audiology.

4. Occupational therapy.

5. Physical therapy.

6. Psychological services.

7. Service coordination services.

8. Medical services, but only for diagnostic or evaluation purposes.

9. Early identification, screening, evaluation, and assessment services.

10. Health services specified by the lead agency as necessary to enable an eligible child to benefit from the other early intervention services.

11. Social work services, including counseling.

12. Vision services.

13. Assistive technology devices and services.

14. Transportation and related costs that are necessary to enable an eligible child or family to receive another service under this paragraph (4)h.

15. Nursing services.

16. Nutrition services.

17. Sign language or cued language services.

18. Other supportive services identified by the Department through regulation.

(5) “Early intervention service provider” means an individual who has the professional qualifications to provide an early intervention service as established by the lead agency under this chapter.

(6) “Eligible child with a disability” or “eligible child” means an individual from birth through 35 months of age and any of the following apply:

a. The child has a significant developmental delay, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, including informed clinical opinion, in 1 or more of the following domains:

1. Cognitive development.

2. Physical development, including vision or hearing.

3. Communication development.

4. Social or emotional development.

5. Adaptive development.

b. The child is diagnosed with a physical or mental condition which has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay and the condition requires 1 or more of the services under paragraph (4)h. of this section.

(7) “Federal infants and toddlers program” or “IDEA” means the program established for infants and toddlers with disabilities under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1431 et seq.

(8) “Individualized family service plan” or “IFSP” means a written plan for providing early intervention services to an eligible child with a disability and the child’s family under § 3107A of this title.

(9) “Infant or toddler” or “child” means an individual from birth through 35 months of age.

(10) “Informed clinical opinion” means both clinical observations and parental participation to determine eligibility by a consensus of a multidisciplinary team of 2 or more members based on the team members’ professional experience and expertise.

(11) “Lead agency” means the state agency responsible for administering this chapter and receiving and disbursing public funds received in accordance with state and federal law and rules.

(12) “Service coordination” means a flexible process of interaction facilitated by a service coordinator to assist the family of an eligible child with a disability within a community to identify and meet the child’s needs. Service coordination must not duplicate any case management services which an eligible child with a disability or the child’s family are already receiving or eligible to receive from another source.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3104A. Powers and duties.

(a) The Department shall do all of the following:

(1) Develop and implement a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multi-disciplinary, interagency system which ensures that appropriate early intervention services based on scientifically-based research, to the extent practicable, are available to all eligible children and families.

(2) A timely, comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation of the functioning of each infant or toddler with a disability in the State, and a family-directed assessment of the needs of each family of each infant or toddler, to assist appropriately in the development of the infant or toddler.

(3) Promote public awareness to all primary referral sources and ensure prompt identification and evaluation of eligible children and their families.

(4) Develop and implement IFSPs for eligible children and their families under § 3107A of this title.

(5) Maintain a central directory that includes information on early intervention services, resources, experts, and research and demonstration projects in the State.

(6) Adopt and implement a comprehensive system of personnel development and qualifications.

(7) Serve as the State’s lead agency for early intervention services, including providing a single line of responsibility to carry out all the following:

a. The general administration and supervision of programs and activities receiving assistance under the IDEA.

b. The monitoring of programs and activities used to implement this State system.

c. Identifying and coordinating all available resources within the State from federal, state, local, and private sources.

d. The development and adoption of interagency agreements that ensure meaningful cooperation and coordination, including the financial responsibility for each agency and procedures to resolve disputes.

e. The development of procedures to ensure that services are provided to eligible children with disabilities and their families in a timely manner pending the resolution of any disputes among public agencies or service providers.

(8) A system for compiling data regarding early intervention services provided under this chapter that aligns with the Department’s system for children ages 3 through 21 and includes all of the following:

a. The number of eligible children in this State in need of appropriate early intervention services.

b. The number of children served.

c. The types of services provided, including a referral tracking and monitoring system.

(9) A policy pertaining to the contracting or making of other arrangements with public and private service providers to provide early intervention services in this State, consistent with the provisions of this chapter, including the contents of the application used and the conditions of the contract or other arrangements.

(10) Otherwise meet and implement funding and eligibility requirements of the IDEA.

(11) Make all reports prepared regarding work under this chapter available on the Department website.

(b) The Department may charge a fee for services under this chapter to cover the cost of the program.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3105A. Early intervention service providers; requirements.

(a) The Department shall promote the preparation of early intervention providers who are fully and appropriately qualified to provide early intervention services.

(b) (1) To provide early intervention services under this chapter, an individual must be licensed under Title 24 or licensed or certified under subchapter I of Chapter 12 of this title, to provide the specific service.

(2) In addition to meeting the requirement under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, an early intervention service provider must participate annually in the Department’s child abuse detection and prevention training under § 4163 of this title.

(c) The Department shall assign a unique identification number to each early intervention service provider providing early intervention services under this chapter. The Department shall use the early intervention service provider’s unique identification number to track licensure, certification, employment, and professional development.

(d) The Department shall maintain an online, public database of early intervention service providers that can be searched by an individual’s name and provides all of the following information:

(1) Education history.

(2) Current licensure or certification.

(3) Current place of employment.

(e) Ensure that early intervention service providers complete the background checks required under § 309 of Title 31.

83 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3106A. Child Find.

(a) The Department shall conduct Child Find activities to ensure early identification and assessment of children who may be eligible for services under this chapter. Child Find must include the opportunity for all children from birth through 35 months, who have not already been found eligible for services under this chapter, to receive annual developmental screening.

(b) Child Find must include online developmental screening and collaboration with home visiting programs and child care providers, including school districts and Head Start.

83 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3107A. Individualized family service plan.

The Department must ensure that eligible children and their families annually receive an IFSP that includes all of the following:

(1) A multi-disciplinary assessment of the unique strengths and needs of each eligible child and identification of services appropriate to meet those needs.

(2) A family-directed assessment of the resources, priorities, and concerns of the family and the identification of the supports and services necessary to enhance the family’s capacity to meet the developmental needs of the eligible child.

(3) A written IFSP in the format specifically prescribed by regulation, developed and approved as follows:

a. The IFSP must be prepared by a multi-disciplinary team which includes the child’s parents.

b. The contents of the IFSP must be fully explained to the parents and informed written consent obtained prior to providing the services described in the IFSP.

c. If parental consent to a particular service is withheld, the early intervention services to which consent is obtained must be provided.

(4) Services under the IFSP must be provided, to the maximum extent appropriate, in the natural environment.

(b) An IFSP must be reviewed every 6 months, or more often when appropriate based on the needs of the child and family.

(c) The initial evaluation, assessment, and plan meeting must be held within 45 calendar days after the initial referral to the early intervention program, except under exceptional family circumstances as allowed under the IDEA.

(d) An IFSP must provide for the child to smoothly transition from services provided under this chapter as required under the IDEA.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3108A. Cooperation of participating agencies.

(a) All state agencies and contractors participating in the provision of early intervention services under this chapter shall cooperate with the Department and Interagency Coordinating Council to ensure effective system implementation, coordination, and nonduplication of activities.

(b) The IFSP under § 3107A of this title serves as the primary comprehensive service plan for all cooperating agencies and contractors and must be accorded deference in determining the developmental, educational, and medical necessity of included early intervention services.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3109A. Procedural safeguards.

The Department shall provide procedural safeguards which include all of the following:

(1) Provide the opportunity for a parent to resolve complaints through mediation and an impartial, timely administrative hearing where the burden of proof rests with the respondent agency.

(2) Maintain the confidentiality of personally identifiable information.

(3) Provide the option to accept or decline early intervention services without jeopardizing eligibility for other early intervention services.

(4) Provide a parent the opportunity to examine and obtain copies of relevant records either without charge, or, if authorized by departmental regulation, at a fee that does not exceed actual cost.

(5) Ensure the appointment of a surrogate decision-maker if the State has custody of an eligible child or the child’s parent cannot be identified or located.

(6) Provide prior written notice to a child’s parent if a participating agency or service provider proposes to initiate or change or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or placement of an eligible child or the provision of early intervention services.

(7) Procedures to ensure that notice required under paragraph (6) of this section fully and effectively informs parents of the procedural safeguards under this section.

(8) Procedures to ensure, in the absence of contrary agreement, the continuation of early intervention services during the pendency of any proceeding or action involving a complaint by a parent or, in the context of initial application, provision of services not in dispute.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3110A. Compulsion prohibited.

Nothing in this chapter may be construed to compel any person to submit to any medical or public health examination, treatment, or supervision.

83 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3111A. Interagency Coordinating Council.

(a) There is hereby established the Interagency Coordinating Council (Council).

(b) The Council shall advise and assist the Department and the Delaware Early Childhood Council with implementation of this chapter and otherwise fulfill any requirements of an advisory council under the IDEA. The Department shall ensure that the Council is provided with sufficient staff and other supports to effectively meet its obligations.

(c) (1) The Council is composed of 23 members appointed by the Governor. The term of a member is 3 years and a member may serve more than 1 term. Appointments must be made to ensure that membership reasonably represents the geographical diversity of the State and meets composition requirements of the advisory council under the IDEA.

(2) The Governor shall designate a member of the Council to serve as the chair of the Council. A member of the Council who is a representative of the lead agency may not serve as the chair of the Council.

(3) A majority of the total membership of the Council constitutes a quorum. A quorum is required for the Council to take official action. A vacant position is not counted for quorum purposes.

(4) The Council may adopt rules and bylaws necessary for its operation.

(d) Members of the Council serve without compensation, except that members may be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incident to their duties as members of the Council.

(e) Any replacement appointment to the Council to fill a vacancy prior to the expiration of a term is filled for the remainder of the term.

(f) The Council shall hold at least 1 joint meeting with the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens each calendar year.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

§ 3112A. Regulations.

(a) The Department shall promulgate regulations necessary to carry out this chapter and to ensure full funding eligibility and compliance with the IDEA.

(b) Regulations prepared by the Department under this chapter are subject to review and comment by the Council. The Department shall provide the Council with proposed regulations, including proposed revisions, before publication for public comment under Chapter 101 of Title 29.

71 Del. Laws, c. 286, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2

83 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 1