What is Early ACCESS?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) created the Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program (Part C) in 1986 to improve the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities. The Act also hopes to lower the likelihood of delays in development and improve outcomes of children before entering school. Part C funding provides early intervention (EI) services to infants and toddlers (birth to age 3) who have delays in development.
Early intervention is a system of services that helps infants and toddlers with or at risk for developmental delays or disabilities. Early intervention focuses on helping the caregivers of eligible infants and toddlers learn how to support their child learn the basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life, such as: physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking); cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems); communication (talking, listening, understanding); social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and self-help (eating, dressing).
Iowa's Part C early intervention system is known as Early ACCESS. Early ACCESS is for families with infants and toddlers who have a:
- health or physical condition affecting their growth & development, or
- delay in their ability to play, think, hear, see, eat, talk or move.
The Early ACCESS system is guided by its vision, mission and key princples.
Early ACCESS Vision: Every infant and toddler with or at risk for a developmental delay and their families will be supported and included in their communities so that the children will be healthy and successful.
Early ACCESS Mission: Early ACCESS builds upon and provides supports and resources to assist family members and caregivers to enhance children’s learning and development through everyday learning opportunities.
Early ACCESS Key Principles*:
- Infants and toddlers learn best through everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts.
- All families, with the necessary supports and resources, can enhance their children’s learning and development.
- The primary role of a service provider in early intervention is to work with and support family members and caregivers in children’s lives.
- The early intervention process, from initial contacts through transition, must be dynamic and individualized to reflect the child’s and family members’ preferences, learning styles and cultural beliefs.
- IFSP outcomes must be functional and based on children’s and families’ needs and family-identified priorities.
- The family’s priorities, needs and interests are addressed most appropriately by a primary provider who represents and receives team and community support.
- Interventions with young children and family members must be based on explicit principles, validated practices, best available research, and relevant laws and regulations.
*Workgroup on Principles and Practices in Natural Environments, OSEP TA Community of Practice: Part C Settings. (2008, March). Agreed upon mission and key principles for providing early intervention services in natural environments.
You can also access a PDF version of the Early ACCESS Vision, Mission & Principle Handout.