Early Intervention Referral Outcomes for Children at Increased Risk of Experiencing Developmental Delays

Kristi L. Atkins, Jill K. Dolata, Patricia Blasco, Sage N. Saxton, Susanne W. Duvall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives: The primary goal was to examine outcomes of Part C early intervention (EI) referrals from a high-risk infant follow-up program and factors associated with success. A secondary aim was to determine how many referred children not evaluated by EI would have likely qualified by either automatically meeting state eligibility criteria with a condition associated with “high-probability” for developmental delays or having test scores evidencing developmental delays. Methods: Participants included 77 children referred directly to EI from a high-risk infant follow-up program. Scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-III, basic demographics, and medical variables were extracted from electronic medical records. Information regarding referral outcomes was gathered via follow-up phone calls to EI programs several months after referral. Results: Results indicate 62% of EI referrals resulted in evaluation, with 69% of those evaluated being found eligible for services. Overall, 34% of referrals resulted in EI enrollment. Of those who were not evaluated, 71% were likely to have qualified based on state eligibility criteria. Follow-up phone call results indicated the majority of families not evaluated (64%) were never successfully contacted by the EI program. Conclusions: Findings from the present study illustrate the extent of challenges in connecting families with needed EI services and indicate an opportunity for improvement in EI referral processes to increase enrollment for eligible children. Improved communication between referral sources and service providers could support enrollment with detailed documentation of prior testing and explicit reasons for referral. Follow-up calls to confirm receipt of referral may also be necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-212
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Early intervention
  • Health services utilization
  • High-risk infant
  • NICU

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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