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  The state-funded Developmental Evaluation and Intervention (DEI) Program, part of Chapter 393, Florida Statutes, and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C) are all under the umbrella of the CMS Early Steps system. These programs consolidate to provide a comprehensive, coordinated program of family-responsive services for infants and toddlers. Take a closer look at each one of these click on the title (or see below).

Developmental Evaluation and Intervention (DEI) Program
The Florida Legislature provided for the establishment of Developmental Evaluation and Intervention (DEI) Programs, including infant hearing impairment services, at designated hospitals, which provide level II or III neonatal intensive care services (Chapter 391, Part III, Florida Statutes). The DEI Program has been providing services since the late 1970s.

The Developmental Evaluation and Intervention (DEI) program component is a coordination of services program intended to enhance the family's ability to maximize their child's potential. It is intended to provide comprehensive assessments of the needs of 1) infants and toddlers who have received services in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of designated hospitals, 2) infants and toddlers identified as hearing impaired or at high risk of hearing impairment, and 3) infants and toddlers who have been referred by the CMS Genetics/Infant Screening Program. Children identified in a NICU must meet medical as well as family income eligibility to receive services under this program component. There is no financial eligibility criteria for children identified with hearing impairments.

The focus is on early identification and the provision of service coordination. Service coordination assures that the child and family receive specific intervention and assistance services to address the concerns, priorities, and outcomes identified in the Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP).

All children born in Florida receive newborn hearing screening, typically before discharge from the hospital. The DEI program component can also include audiological monitoring for infants found to be at high risk for late onset hearing loss (after the first month of life). Children with confirmed hearing loss in one or both ears are eligible for Part C services under Established Conditions and can receive services through a subcomponent of Early Steps called SHINE (Serving Hearing Impaired Newborns Effectively). SHINE services include those by the SHINE provider and ongoing services from hearing specialists in the community and/or local school districts that may provide early intervention services for children with hearing impairments.

The DEI state-funded program serves infants and toddlers who meet the following criteria:
  • Families must meet income criteria that is equal to or less than the Medicaid income eligibility limit for family size.
  • Infants who have been served in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of designated hospitals and who meet certain medical criteria for being at high risk for developmental delay, such as extreme low birth weight, or low Apgar score cards. Complex family psychosocial conditions, which in combination with one or more of the above medical/health concerns for the infant, would place the child at significant developmental risk.
  • Infants identified as having a diagnosed hearing impairment. There is no financial eligibility criteria for infants identified with hearing impairments.
For more information on the DEI program specific to your area, contact your local Early Steps.

Chapter 393, Florida Statutes
Chapter 393, Florida Statutes, provides for the provision of services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Children from birth to 36 months of age who are eligible under this chapter represent a similar population to those infants and toddlers eligible under the federal IDEA Part C program. For that reason, responsibility for serving these children was transferred to Children's Medical Services (CMS) in January, 1994. Early Steps provides services under this chapter only for infants and toddlers who meet eligibility under the IDEA, Part C program.

For more information on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (formerly Florida's Developmental Disabilities Program), click here.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly the Education for the Handicapped Act (EHA), is the federal law that supports early intervention, special education and related service programming for children and youth with disabilities. The IDEA has its roots in Public Law 94-142 (the Education of All Handicapped Children Act), which was originally enacted in 1975 to establish grants to states for the education of children with disabilities. The law has been revised many times over the years. The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004. So, in one sense, the law is very new, even as it has a long, detailed, and powerful history.

IDEA is divided into four parts, as follows:
Part A - General Provisions
Part B - Assistance for Education of All Children with Disabilities
Part C - Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
Part D - National Activities to Improve Education of Children with Disabilities

Early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-3) have been a part of IDEA since 1986. This section of the law is commonly known as Part C of IDEA. New proposed draft regulations for Part C were issued May 9, 2007 by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education. These regulations, when issued in their final form, will reflect the changes resulting from IDEA 2004 and provide guidance to States on how Part C is to be implemented.