Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)
What is ECI?
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a statewide program within the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) for families with children birth up to age 3, with developmental delays, disabilities or certain medical diagnoses that may impact development. ECI services support families as they learn how to help their children grow and learn.
To Learn More about the Texas ECI program please visit the Texas HHSC website: ECI Texas.
Who Can Get Help?
ECI serves children from birth to 36 months with a developmental delay or disability.
How Does My Child Qualify for Services?
To be eligible for ECI services your child must meet one of the following 3 criteria:
1. Medically Diagnosed Condition
If your child has a medically diagnosed condition that is likely to cause a developmental delay and has a need for services, he or she will qualify for ECI services. HHS has a list of diagnoses that are medically qualifying. Medical records must be provided to confirm the diagnoses. Here is a list of eligible Medical Diagnosed Conditions for ECI services: ECI Medical Eligibility.
2. Auditory or Visual Impairment
A child who has an auditory or visual impairment as defined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) qualifies for ECI. This is determined by a team that includes certified staff from your local independent school district.
3. Developmental Delay
A child who has a developmental delay of at least 25 percent in 1 or more areas of development –social emotional, self-help, communication, motor functions or cognitive skills – qualifies for ECI services. If the only delay is expressive language development, there must be a 33 percent delay to qualify.
Your child will be evaluated to find out the nature and extent of his or her abilities, delays or difficulties. The team uses a tool called the Battelle Developmental Inventory 2nd edition;(BDI-2) to gather information in each of the developmental areas.
If your child is older than age 3, he or she might be eligible for services from your local school district. The Texas Education Agency can provide you with information about special education services. A referral for assessment may be made by contacting the director of special education for your local school district.
How Are Services Determined?
Your child is evaluated using the BDI-2 to determine eligibility. If your child qualifies for services, the team identifies your family's daily routines and your child's strength and needs. Based on the results of the evaluation and assessment, your team develops a plan for services, also known as the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), evaluations, assessments and IFSPs are provided at no cost to parents.
How are Services Provided?
- Family-centered services: Services are based on the needs and concerns of each family and child. ECI professionals and family members incorporate activities into daily routines to promote the child's development. Family and Caregiver participation is required during delivery of ECI services. We offer an array of individual therapy services as well as group therapy services. Our current group services include: Behavior-Sensory Group, Transition-Inclusion Group, Let’s Talk Speech Group, and an Aquatic Therapy group.
- Familiar settings: Though most ECI services are provided at home, they can be provided in other places where the child goes regularly, such as a childcare center, park, library or other community setting. In childcare centers, caregiver participation is required during delivery of ECI services.
- Case management: Service coordinators help families access and receive the services, resources and supports they need to support their child's development. Supports include helping the child and family transition to special education services or other options, as appropriate for children exiting ECI at age 3. ECI provides comprehensive case management for all members of the child's family as their needs relate to the child's growth and development.
- Planning for next steps: ECI services end when the child turns 3. Well before that time, the ECI team, including the family, decides on next steps. Children may transition to public school, preschool, Head Start, childcare centers or other community activities and programs or they may stay home with their family. For children who need further intervention services the goal is a smooth transition with no service gaps.
Why Natural Environment?
- To ensure the highest quality of service delivery to families, ECI has adopted the following Seven Key Principles from the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. These principles, developed by a national team of early childhood intervention experts, serve as the foundation of practice guidelines for ECI service providers statewide.
- Infants and toddlers learn best through everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts.
- All families, with the necessary supports and resources, can enhance their children’s learning and development.
- The primary role of a service provider in early intervention is to work with and support family members and caregivers in children’s lives.
- The early intervention process, from initial contacts through transition, must be dynamic and individualized to reflect the child’s and family members’ preferences, learning styles, and cultural beliefs.
- Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) outcomes must be functional and based on children’s and families’ needs and family-identified priorities.
- The family’s priorities, needs, and interests are addressed most appropriately by a primary provider who represents and receives team and community support.
- Interventions with young children and family members must be based on explicit principles, validated practices, best available research, and relevant laws and regulations.
Who Provides Services?
The team that evaluates the child and plans and provides services are licensed or credentialed providers. The team may include:
- Early intervention specialists
- Speech and language pathologists
- Physical and occupational therapists
- Social workers
How do I Pay for Services?
ECI asks families who can afford to do so to share in the cost of services. This is called the Family Cost Share. The amount a family pays for services is determined using a sliding-fee scale and is based on family size and income, after allowable deductions. No child or family will be turned away because of an inability to pay.
The following services are provided at no cost:
- Evaluation and assessment
- Case management
- IFSP development
- Translation and interpreter services, including sign language
These initial services help identify your child's strengths and needs, as well as locate resources to meet those needs. You may be asked for permission to bill your or your child's insurance for these services.
Paying for ECI Services
Monthly Maximum Charge Sliding Scale
To Learn More about the Family Cost Share program please visit and review these resources:
How Can I Make a Referral?
Anyone can refer a child for ECI services! Here are some common ways you can make a referral:
The following information will be needed for a referral:
- E-mail: ECIReferral@metrocareservices.org
- Fax: 214-333-7097
- Phone (during business hours): 214-331-0109
- Child’s Full Name
- Child’s Date of Birth*
- *If a child is 45-days from turning 3, your referral will be sent to the child’s local ISD
- Address the Child Resides
- Address ECI services would be provided if different from the child’s home (ex: daycare)
- Primary Caregiver(s) Name, Phone Number, and relation to the child
- Primary Language of the Family/Child
- Referral Concerns
- Is CPS Involved?
- Information of Individual Making the Referral:
- Contact Number
- How you heard about ECI
We want to make your first visit with Metrocare ECI to be as easy as possible and one of the best ways for us to do this is to let you know what to expect when you show up at our office for your first appointment.
When you arrive, you will check in with the receptionist.
If you would like to save time during your appointment please ensure you bring the following items with you:
- A copy of your child’s insurance card
- A copy of your child’s medical providers’ information (e.g. pediatrician, specialists, current therapists, etc.)
- Any assistive technology devices your child utilizes in his/her daily living (e.g. glasses, hearing devices, walker, wheel chair, etc.)
- Please ensure you’ve reviewed the following documents are prepared to ask questions to your ECI therapists:
If you have any questions about your initial visit, please contact our office and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.
Our Business Hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Dallas Office – Westmoreland Child & Adolescent Center
1353 N. Westmoreland Road, Cottage 3
Dallas, Texas 75211
Desoto Office – Center for Children with Autism at Metrocare Services Building
1619 N. Hampton Road
Desoto, Texas 75115
Thank you for our community partners who support us in serving our Dallas families!
Hope Supply Company
The Family Place Library– Irving
The Family Place Library – Cedar Hill
First 3 Years
Early Head Start of Greater Dallas
Irving Regional Day School
Callier Center for Communication Disorders
Glenn Heights ISD
Red Oak ISD
Texas Women’s University
University of North Texas
University of Texas – Dallas
Methodist Hospital of Dallas
Scottish Rite Hospital
Center for Children with Autism at Metrocare Services
Interested in helping families that receive services with ECI? Donate Now!