Pennsylvania’s Pre-school Early Intervention (EI) Program serves over 50,000 children (ages 3-5) who have disabilities and/or developmental delays.

What is Early Intervention?

Pre-School Early Intervention is:

  • Program for children ages 3-5 who have developmental needs and/or disabilities.
  • Administered by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) through a collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).
  • Primarily funded through state allocations in the DHS budget (a portion is federally funded).
  • 80% of children in Pre-school EI are served by Intermediate Units (IUs) who are contracted via OCDEL to provide EI services.
  • Mandated program for ALL pre-school children with disabilities who seek them under state and federal law*.

Services that may be offered in Early Intervention Programs:

  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Behavior Plans and Modifications
  • Audiology Services
  • Special Education Instruction
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Autism Services
  • Psychological Evaluations

State and Federal law* requires Pre-School Early Intervention providers to:

  • Proactively find children that might need EI services.
  • Evaluate all children who might need EI services.
  • Serve ALL children with qualifying delays and/or disabilities.
  • Provide services at NO COST to children and/or families.

Current Challenges Facing Pre-school EI Programs

  • The number of services children require and receive has increased dramatically resulting in multiple high-cost services per child.
  • Providers by law can’t decline to serve additional children, even if the cost to serve the children exceeds the original funding allocation.
  • Federal funds (School Based Access) that supports the EI program have drastically decreased throughout the years.
  • Program operational costs have increased (facilities, transportation, salaries and pension).
  • The 2020-2021 Pennsylvania state budget only funded EI for five months (through Nov. 30, 2020). Note: other education services that fall under PDE were fully funded (PreK-12); EI falls under the PA Health and Human Services budget, which was only partially funded.

What Needs to Happen

In order to continue to provide mandated* services to our most vulnerable children, the legislature needs to pass an amended state budget that fully funds Pre-School Early Invention Services through June 30, 2021.

Education Stakeholders Send Letter to PA General Assembly

On Oct. 13, 2020, fifteen (15) education stakeholders sent a letter to the PA General Assembly asking for their support in fully funding Early Intervention Services through 6/30/2021. 

PAIU members: visit the EI Advocacy page for more information (log-in required) 

UPDATE:  The General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, an amended FY2020-2021 state budget that fully funds and adds a 3.5 percent increase for EI services through June 30, 2021. Thank you to the legislature for recognizing the need for EI services for our most vulnerable students. 

*Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); PA Act 212 of 1990

Pennsylvania Association
of Intermediate Units

55 Miller Street

Enola, PA 17025-1640

TEL:  717.732.8464

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