As stated previously, states have some discretion in setting the criteria for child eligibility. In Florida, a child under the age of three is eligible for services under Part C of the IDEA if he/she has a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay or has developmental delay.
Remember, this is a federal entitlement program and has no financial eligibility requirements.
Infants and Toddlers with Established Condition
A child is eligible if there is a diagnosis that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay, in one of the following areas:
Genetic and metabolic disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Severe attachment disorder
Significant sensory impairment (vision/hearing)
Evaluation for eligibility purposes is not necessary for children who have an established condition. If the child has an established condition that is likely to lead to developmental delay, a written confirmation from a licensed physician of the diagnosis is required to establish eligibility or In the case of (a) severe attachment disorder or autism spectrum disorder, a healthcare practitioner acting within his/her scope of practice or (b) in case of hearing loss, a licensed audiologist.
Infants and Toddlers with Developmental Delay
Infants and toddlers are eligible when a developmental delay is identified on an appropriate evaluation including informed clinical opinion, in at least one of the following areas:
Physical/motor (including vision and hearing)
Social or emotional
Verification is determined using an appropriate standardized evaluation tool and one or more of the following:
Adaptive behavior scales
Developmental delay meets or exceeds 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two or more developmental domains or 2.0 standard deviations below the mean in one or more of the following developmental domains, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures and informed clinical opinion: Cognitive, Physical (including vision and hearing), Communication, Social or Emotional and Adaptive.
If you are interested in learning how other states define developmental delay, read State and Jurisdictional Eligibility Definitions for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities under IDEA.