Optimized Early Intervention

Ensure equitable access to Early Intervention services, supports that can make a lifelong difference.

Across Illinois, there is a clear lack of awareness of Early Intervention (EI) services available to families and the criteria for who can access these services, even among early childhood and health care providers.  

A critical support for young children goes underutilized

As a result, many young children do not receive these critical developmental supports that can make a difference in their lifelong trajectoryand can reduce the need for more costly interventions down the road. In fact, approximately only 4% of children under age 3 in Illinois receive EI services, although research indicates that 13% of children could be eligible for EI services.

In order to reach more families and appropriately respond to projected growth in demand for equitable EI services, state agencies must drastically modify and invest in the current EI program.

Only 4% of

children under

age 3 receive

EI services.

Mother and child playing

How to Get There

  • Ensure primary referral sources (families, early childhood providers, health professionals, etc.) and EI evaluation teams understand and use the current EI eligibility criteria to make appropriate referrals and eligibility determinations
  • Implement strategies, such as telehealth, for decreasing service delays for families and children
  • Modify program delivery to engage and serve children and families with complex needs, including children experiencing homelessness, involved in the child welfare system and who are lead-exposed
  • Establish a diverse taskforce to develop recommendations for modifying eligibility criteria for EI to reach more young children at-risk of or with developmental delays
  • Establish billing mechanisms to promote teaming across EI provider disciplines and with other early childhood providers to best support families
  • Increase state and federal funding to respond to projected growth in demand for EI services
  • Continue annual rate increases to improve recruitment and retention of EI professionals 
  • Increase the number of EI professionals with an intentional focus on providers who are ethnically, culturally and linguistically representative of the families and children served 
  • Implement ongoing and embedded professional development to strengthen professionals’ knowledge and skills 
  • Decrease Service Coordinator caseloads to increase the quality of care families receive and promote staff retention 
  • Ensure the new EI data system is an online data management system accessible to all relevant stakeholders that supports real-time data collection, reporting, billing and monitoring and promotes teaming across EI professionals 
  • Develop and launch a public awareness campaign to promote community awareness about EI, its purpose and benefits, what high-quality services look like, and how to access services 
  • Expand the Early Intervention Training Program to provide education and support to families receiving EI services to ensure they understand what to expect and can meaningfully participate 

Projected Outcome

  • Reach an additional 22,000 families eligible for services, double the number of children who receive EI services today 
  • Innovative program delivery methods that decrease service delays for families and children 
  • Reach an increased number of eligible children and families with complex needs, including children experiencing homelessness, involved in the child welfare system and who are lead-exposed 

An additional




Higher quality of care

& increased


of care

  • An EI workforce that is representative of the children served, including providers who are ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse 
  • Positive recruitment and retention of EI professionals 
  • Higher quality of care provided and increased continuity of care among families and their Service Coordinator  
  • Increased awareness among families and communities of available EI services and how to access them 

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