Who qualifies for EI?

Your family will qualify for early intervention if:

  1. Your child has a developmental delay

  2. Your child has a condition or disability that often leads to a developmental delay

  3. Your child is likely to not develop well because your family situation is very hard, or there were certain problems at birth. 

If any of these may be true, keeping reading this Guide and learn how to contact an EI program.

How will you know if your child has a developmental delay?

Developmental delay is when a child is not learning skills and doing things that most kids their age can do. Your child will do an evaluation with a specialist to check their progress in different types of development. If they score below a certain point in two of these categories, they will qualify for Early Intervention.

  • Cognitive: thinking, learning and memory

  • Physical: movement and coordination

  • Communication: expressing themselves and understanding others

  • Social or emotional development: understanding emotions and forming relationships

  • Adaptive: Self-help skills like eating, dressing or using the bathroom

See the menu on the left to learn more about developmental delay.

Conditions and disabilities:

There is a long list of specific conditions that automatically qualify a child for EI. This is just a small sample:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Vision or hearing loss

  • Down Syndrome

  • Cerebral Palsy

If your child does have a certain condition or diagnosis, it will be more clear cut. But most kids who get these services do not yet have a diagnosis.

Image of an exclamation mark beside the text 'If you have any concerns about your child, you need to get them checked out as soon as possible. The earlier a child with a developmental delay gets help, the more likely they are to catch up.'

Family Situations or problems at birth that may qualify for EI

  • Sometimes if your family life is very hard, or your baby has certain problems at birth, it can lead to poor development.

  • In these cases, your family may qualify for EI right at birth.

  • Early Intervention can help to prevent this!

Click on the box below to learn more:

If any of these describe your situation, you may qualify for EI services, even for a new baby, and even if you have no reason to worry yet:


  • Mother was 17 or younger when child was born

  • Mother has given birth 3 times before age 20

  • Mother has not finished 10th grade

  • Either parent has long-term illness or disability

  • Family has little social support

  • Family is homeless or doesn't have enough food, clothing or shelter

  • There is drug use or domestic violence in the home

  • Family is being investigated for protective service, or child is in foster care

New Baby:

  • Birth weight 3.2 lbs or less

  • Premature birth: baby was born before 32 weeks

  • Baby was in the NICU for more than 5 days (NICU: NeonatalIntensive Care Unit)

  • Baby has been admitted to the hospital for more than 25 days in a 6-month period

  • Baby is underweight or is losing weight. (less than the 5th percentile on growth chart)

  • High levels of lead measured in blood (5 ug/dL or more)

  • Trouble with feeding for an extended period of time

Note: having one or two of these may not make you qualify, but if any of them are true, it's worth going through the process to find out.

To see a detailed list of these criteria, click on this link: EI Child and Family Eligibility Factors. (It will open in a new tab on your screen.)

Sources: Family TIES of MA, MA DPH

Sources: Family TIES of MA, Center for Parent Information and Resources, MA DPH