Parent Participation in Early Intervention

Parent Participation in Early Intervention

Families, most particularly parents, are vital participants in early intervention. Your contributions are invaluable:

  • at the individual level where you are intimately involved in determining the services that your own child will receive; and
  • at an organizational level determining policies and scope for EI programs.

The resources below have been identified because they address the many dimensions of parent involvement, including the parents’ right to be involved in decision making regarding their child and the early intervention services he or she receives. 


Early intervention: What it is and how it works.
Quick overview, in English and Spanish.
English |
Spanish |

Watch a video | All about early intervention and parents’ involvement.
Providing Hope, Realizing Dreams will acquaint you with all aspects of the Birth to Three System in Connecticut, from the first point of contact through the evaluation, program planning, and service delivery phases. You’ll be introduced to three families who share their experiences and describe what Birth to Three supports and services have meant to their families. While the video is specific to the Connecticut system, it generalizes very well to how early intervention works in other states.

Early intervention parental rights, in English and Spanish.
From the My Child Without Limits website, short and sweet and to the point.
English |
Spanish |

Your child’s development: Age-based tips from birth to 36 months.
This set of age-based handouts include a “what to expect” chart for each age range, frequently asked questions, a research summary, and information about common parenting challenges for each age and stage. From ZERO TO THREE, the National Center For Infants, Toddlers and Families.

Developmental screening.
Well-child visits allow doctors and nurses to have regular contact with children to keep track of―or monitor― your child’s health and development through periodic developmental screening. Developmental screening is a short test to tell if a child is learning basic skills when he or she should, or if there are delays. Developmental screening can also be done by other professionals in health care, community, or school settings. Read more about when and why developmental screening is important, and what your role as a parent is in the process.

Find out about your rights in your state.The ECTA Center offers this webpage of links to state-specific materials on early intervention.

Parents on the early intervention team.The ECTA Center also offers several on-point Practice Guides for families on being involved with the team of early intervention professionals working with your child and family. Among these guides are how to partner with the team evaluating your child, how to support learning at home, sharing what you know with the team, and working with the team along with other family members.


The resources below focus on how early intervention programs and providers can support family involvement and active participation in the early intervention services their young child with disabilities receives.

DEC-family recommended practices.
DEC is the Division of Early Childhood at the Council for Exceptional Children. This special interest division has put together the DEC Recommended Practices to provide guidance to practitioners and families about the most effective ways to improve the learning outcomes and promote the development of young children, birth through five years of age, who have or are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities. For practitioners, it’s vital to know what DEC Recommended Practices are for working with families. This webpage will tell you.

More on DEC-family recommended practices.
There are multiple checklists and practice guides available to guide family-centered practices, as well as videos to illustrate those practices. Don’t miss them!
Checklists and practice guides |
Illustration videos |

Supporting family participation.
This 3-page tip sheet describes the importance of providing families with information and resources in ways that are meaningful to and easily understood by the family–whether that be through conversation, videos, materials in print, or another parent. The tip sheet stresses that communication isn’t one-way, but transactional, an exchange, with the family sharing needed perspectives about its routines and values with the professional.

Tools and guides to facilitate family engagement.
These tools can be used by IFSP teams in a variety of ways by anyone engaging with families. Take a look and see how you might use them during ongoing visits or IFSP meetings. They also work well when planning for next steps with families.

Engaging parents and family members in early intervention.
Here’s a 16-slide presentation from the director of First Years that looks at how this new generation of children are identified at or near birth and are increasingly from bilingual or diverse families, and how this calls for changes in professional practice (moving from professional-centered practice to family-centered). The principles of family-centered practice are summarized, and how they play out in the real world (benefits, outcomes) is examined.

Practices for parent participation in early intervention/early childhood special education.
This research-based article describes a set of practices to strengthen parent participation in the EI/ECSE programs. These recommendations highlight the importance of parents as a part of EI/ECSE services. The complexity of the lives of parents, their concerns, priorities, and resources must be addressed to effectively involve parents in the mutual goal of improving developmental outcomes of their children. The article provides many vignettes as examples of how to involve parents across many different circumstances.

Webinar | Engaging and supporting culturally diverse families with young children.
This nearly 2-hour webinar from the PACER Center is designed for early childhood care and education providers and early intervention and early childhood special education professionals or anyone who wants to increase their effectiveness in working with families from diverse cultures, especially those who have a young child with developmental concerns or delays.

Webinar | Serving diverse families – Strategies for early childhood providers.
This webinar (also from PACER Center) is designed for early childhood intervention and early childhood special education professionals who want to increase their effectiveness in working with young children with disabilities from diverse cultures. It is for everyone who has ever wondered: “How can I avoid offending a parent who is from a culture different from my own?” “How can I help families be comfortable in expressing their opinions and proposing solutions?” “How can I support their decisions, even when I do not agree?” “How can I help the family determine family-directed outcomes based on their concerns, needs, and priorities?”

Practice guides for practitioners from the ECTA Center.
The ECTA Center offers practice guides to help practitioners improve their family-centered practices, including how to involve families in the assessment process, supporting family member informed decision making, involving families in obtaining supports and resources, and building family capacity in early childhood intervention. In many cases, there are also guides that can be shared with families.