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Federal Early Intervention Definitions 

At-risk Infant or Toddler

At-risk infant or toddler means an individual under three years of age who would be at risk of experiencing a substantial developmental delay if early intervention services were not provided to the individual. At the State's discretion, at-risk infant or toddler may include an infant or toddler who is at risk of experiencing developmental delays because of biological or environmental factors that can be identified (including low birth weight, respiratory distress as a newborn, lack of oxygen, brain hemorrhage, infection, nutritional deprivation, a history of abuse or neglect, and being directly affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure).


Child means an individual under the age of six and may include an infant or toddler with a disability.


Consent means that—

    • The parent has been fully informed of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought, in the parent's native language, as defined in §303.25;
    • The parent understands and agrees in writing to the carrying out of the activity for which the parent's consent is sought, and the consent form describes that activity and lists the early intervention records (if any) that will be released and to whom they will be released; and
    • The parent understands that the granting of consent is voluntary on the part of the parent and may be revoked at any time. If a parent revokes consent, that revocation is not retroactive (i.e., it does not apply to an action that occurred before the consent was revoked).

Early Intervention Service Provider

Early intervention service provider or EIS provider means an entity (whether public, private, or nonprofit) or an individual that provides early intervention services under part C of the Act, whether or not the entity or individual receives Federal funds under part C of the Act, and may include, where appropriate, the lead agency and a public agency responsible for providing early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities in the State under part C of the Act.

An EIS provider is responsible for:

    • Participating in the multidisciplinary individualized family service plan (IFSP) Team's ongoing assessment of an infant or toddler with a disability and a family-directed assessment of the resources, priorities, and concerns of the infant's or toddler's family, as related to the needs of the infant or toddler, in the development of integrated goals and outcomes for the IFSP;
    • Providing early intervention services in accordance with the IFSP of the infant or toddler with a disability; and
    • Consulting with and training parents and others regarding the provision of the early intervention services described in the IFSP of the infant or toddler with a disability.

Elementary School

Elementary school means a nonprofit institutional day or residential school, including a public elementary charter school, that provides elementary education, as determined under State law.

Free Appropriate Public Education

Free appropriate public education or FAPE, as used in §§303.211, 303.501, and 303.521, means special education and related services that:

    • Are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;
    • Meet the standards of the State educational agency (SEA), including the requirements of part B of the Act;
    • Include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and
    • Are provided in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP) that meets the requirements of 34 CFR 300.320 through 300.324.

Health Services

Health services mean services necessary to enable an otherwise eligible child to benefit from the other early intervention services under this part during the time that the child is eligible to receive early intervention services.

The term includes:

    • Such services as clean intermittent catheterization, tracheostomy care, tube feeding, the changing of dressings or colostomy collection bags, and other health services; and
    • Consultation by physicians with other service providers concerning the special health care needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities that will need to be addressed in the course of providing other early intervention services.

The term does not include:

    • Services that are—
      • Surgical in nature (such as cleft palate surgery, surgery for club foot, or the shunting of hydrocephalus);
      • Purely medical in nature (such as hospitalization for management of congenital heart ailments, or the prescribing of medicine or drugs for any purpose); or
      • Related to the implementation, optimization (e.g., mapping), maintenance, or replacement of a medical device that is surgically implanted, including a cochlear implant.
        • Nothing in this part limits the right of an infant or toddler with a disability with a surgically implanted device (e.g., cochlear implant) to receive the early intervention services that are identified in the child's IFSP as being needed to meet the child's developmental outcomes.
        • Nothing in this part prevents the EIS provider from routinely checking that either the hearing aid or the external components of a surgically implanted device (e.g., cochlear implant) of an infant or toddler with a disability are functioning properly;
    • Devices (such as heart monitors, respirators and oxygen, and gastrointestinal feeding tubes and pumps) necessary to control or treat a medical condition; and
    • Medical-health services (such as immunizations and regular “well-baby” care) that are routinely recommended for all children.

Homeless Children

Homeless children means children who meet the definition given the term homeless children and youths in section 725 (42 U.S.C. 11434a) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.

Include; including

Include or including means that the items named are not all of the possible items that are covered, whether like or unlike the ones named.

Indian; Indian tribe

Indian means an individual who is a member of an Indian tribe.

Indian tribe means any Federal or State Indian tribe, band, rancheria, pueblo, colony, or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional village corporation (as defined in or established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, 43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.).

Nothing in this definition is intended to indicate that the Secretary of the Interior is required to provide services or funding to a State Indian Tribe that is not listed in the Federal Register list of Indian entities recognized as eligible to receive services from the United States, published pursuant to section 104 of the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, 25 U.S.C. 479a-1.

Individualized Family Service Plan

Individualized family service plan or IFSP means a written plan for providing early intervention services to an infant or toddler with a disability under this part and the infant's or toddler's family that—

    • Is based on the evaluation and assessment described in §303.321;
    • Includes the content specified in §303.344;
    • Is implemented as soon as possible once parental consent for the early intervention services in the IFSP is obtained (consistent with §303.420); and
    • Is developed in accordance with the IFSP procedures in §§303.342, 303.343, and 303.345.

Infant or Toddler with a Disability

Infant or toddler with a disability means an individual under three years of age who needs early intervention services because the individual—

  • Is experiencing a developmental delay, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas:
    • Cognitive development.
    • Physical development, including vision and hearing.
    • Communication development.
    • Social or emotional development.
    • Adaptive development; or
  • Has a diagnosed physical or mental condition that—
    • Has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay; and
    • Includes conditions such as chromosomal abnormalities; genetic or congenital disorders; sensory impairments; inborn errors of metabolism; disorders reflecting disturbance of the development of the nervous system; congenital infections; severe attachment disorders; and disorders secondary to exposure to toxic substances, including fetal alcohol syndrome.

Infant or toddler with a disability may include, at a State's discretion, an at-risk infant or toddler.

Infant or toddler with a disability may include, at a State's discretion, a child with a disability who is eligible for services under section 619 of the Act and who previously received services under this part until the child enters, or is eligible under State law to enter, kindergarten or elementary school, as appropriate, provided that any programs under this part must include—

    • An educational component that promotes school readiness and incorporates pre-literacy, language, and numeracy skills for children ages three and older who receive part C services pursuant to §303.211; and
    • A written notification to parents of a child with a disability who is eligible for services under section 619 of the Act and who previously received services under this part of their rights and responsibilities in determining whether their child will continue to receive services under this part or participate in preschool programs under section 619 of the Act.

Lead Agency

Lead agency means the agency designated by the State's Governor under section 635(a)(10) of the Act and §303.120 that receives funds under section 643 of the Act to administer the State's responsibilities under part C of the Act.

Local Educational Agency

Local educational agency or LEA means a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or for a combination of school districts or counties as are recognized in a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools.

Educational service agencies and other public institutions or agencies. The term includes the following:

    • Educational service agency, defined as a regional public multiservice agency—
      • Authorized by State law to develop, manage, and provide services or programs to LEAs; and
      • Recognized as an administrative agency for purposes of the provision of special education and related services provided within public elementary schools and secondary schools of the State.
    • Any other public institution or agency having administrative control and direction of a public elementary school or secondary school, including a public charter school that is established as an LEA under State law.
    • Entities that meet the definition of intermediate educational unit or IEU in section 602(23) of the Act, as in effect prior to June 4, 1997. Under that definition an intermediate educational unit or IEU means any public authority other than an LEA that—
      • Is under the general supervision of a State educational agency;
      • Is established by State law for the purpose of providing FAPE on a regional basis; and
      • Provides special education and related services to children with disabilities within the State.

BIE-funded schools. The term includes an elementary school or secondary school funded by the Bureau of Indian Education, and not subject to the jurisdiction of any SEA other than the Bureau of Indian Education, but only to the extent that the inclusion makes the school eligible for programs for which specific eligibility is not provided to the school in another provision of law and the school does not have a student population that is smaller than the student population of the LEA receiving assistance under the Act with the smallest student population.


Multidisciplinary means the involvement of two or more separate disciplines or professions and with respect to—

    • Evaluation of the child and assessments of the child and family may include one individual who is qualified in more than one discipline or profession; and
    • The IFSP Team must include the involvement of the parent and two or more individuals from separate disciplines or professions and one of these individuals must be the service coordinator.

Native Language

Native language, when used with respect to an individual who is limited English proficient or LEP (as that term is defined in section 602(18) of the Act), means—

    • The language normally used by that individual, or, in the case of a child, the language normally used by the parents of the child, except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section; and
    • For evaluations and assessments conducted pursuant to §303.321(a)(5) and (a)(6), the language normally used by the child, if determined developmentally appropriate for the child by qualified personnel conducting the evaluation or assessment.

Native language, when used with respect to an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or for an individual with no written language, means the mode of communication that is normally used by the individual (such as sign language, braille, or oral communication).

Natural Environments

Natural environments means settings that are natural or typical for a same-aged infant or toddler without a disability, may include the home or community settings, and must be consistent with the provisions of §303.126.


Parent means:

    • A biological or adoptive parent of a child;
    • A foster parent, unless State law, regulations, or contractual obligations with a State or local entity prohibit a foster parent from acting as a parent;
    • A guardian generally authorized to act as the child's parent, or authorized to make early intervention, educational, health or developmental decisions for the child (but not the State if the child is a ward of the State);
    • An individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child's welfare; or
    • A surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with §303.422 or section 639(a)(5) of the Act.

The biological or adoptive parent, when attempting to act as the parent under this part and when more than one party is qualified to act as a parent, must be presumed to be the parent for purposes of this section unless the biological or adoptive parent does not have legal authority to make educational or early intervention service decisions for the child.

If a judicial decree or order identifies a specific person or persons to act as the “parent” of a child or to make educational or early intervention service decisions on behalf of a child, then the person or persons must be determined to be the “parent” for purposes of part C of the Act, except that if an EIS provider or a public agency provides any services to a child or any family member of that child, that EIS provider or public agency may not act as the parent for that child.

Parent training and information center

Parent training and information center means a center assisted under section 671 or 672 of the Act.

Personally identifiable information

Personally identifiable information means personally identifiable information as defined in 34 CFR 99.3, as amended, except that the term “student” in the definition of personally identifiable information in 34 CFR 99.3 means “child” as used in this part and any reference to “school” means “EIS provider” as used in this part.

Qualified personnel

Qualified personnel means personnel who have met State approved or recognized certification, licensing, registration, or other comparable requirements that apply to the areas in which the individuals are conducting evaluations or assessments or providing early intervention services.


34 CFR §303.5-303.37

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