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Though the early years of life are critical for any child, this period may be especially crucial for young children who are at risk for or presently evidencing developmental delays. Bruder (2001) offered several rationales for the provision of early intervention. First, the earlier that children with such issues are identified and provided services, the greater the likelihood that the child will benefit. Early intervention services can reduce or eliminate developmental delays, moving children out of a risk category (e.g., from “Delayed” to “Typically developing”) (Glascoe, 2005). In addition to these immediate effects, early intervention can have a significant impact on the subsequent developmental status of the child (Barnett & Belfield, 2006).

Second, families receive invaluable support from these early intervention services (Sandall, Hemmeter, Smith, & McLean, 2005). Indeed, the very conceptual foundation of the Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP), the intervention plan developed and implemented for children up to age six who evidence developmental delays (as opposed to the school-age Individualized Education Program) is that it is the family as much as the young child who is need of support and services.

Finally, Bruder (2010) concluded that early intervention programs offer economic advantages to schools and communities. As participants in these programs gain skills and enhance their developmental status, educational and post-school programs benefit from the decreased costs of special education and disability services support that would otherwise be required for school-aged children and adults with disabilities.

The primacy of the role of the family in first identifying developmental delays and then providing support for interventions is difficult to overstate (Sandall et al., 2005). Families provide this support through collaboration with early intervention professionals by facilitating the early intervention at home, while providing supplemental opportunities for the child to practice emergent skills at home and in the community.

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