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Early Childhood Intervention
Early Childhood Intervention
ECI Eligibility


Income is not a factor in determining eligibility. Eligibility is determined by a team of at least two professionals from different disciplines. ECI determines eligibility for infants and toddlers living in Texas who are birth to 36 months of age based on:


A child who has a medically diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay qualifies for ECI. The diagnosis must be on the DARS ECI list of qualifying medical diagnoses, and medical records must be provided to confirm the diagnosis.

A child who has an auditory or visual impairment as defined by the Texas Education Agency rule at 19 TAC Section 89.1040 qualifies for ECI. This determination is made by a team led by certified staff from the local independent school district.

A child who has a developmental delay of at least 25% which affects functioning in one or more areas of development, including cognition, communication, gross or fine motor, social-emotional and adaptive/self-help qualifies for ECI.


A comprehensive evaluation is used to find out the nature and extent of the child’s abilities, delays or difficulties, and to determine whether a child is eligible for early intervention services. The team uses an evaluation instrument known as the Battelle Developmental Inventory (2nd edition; BDI-2) to gather information in each of the developmental areas noted above. The BDI-2 is a norm-referenced tool, which means it assesses functioning compared to developmental norms based on other infants and toddlers. As part of the evaluation, the team will observe the child, ask the child to do things and talk to the parent about the child’s abilities.

A comprehensive evaluation that looks at all areas of development is required by federal law. This is the best way to evaluate because many aspects of a young child’s abilities and functioning are interrelated. The comprehensive evaluation may also include information from other sources, such as reviews of a child’s medical and developmental history, and interviews with parents, other primary caregivers and medical providers.

If found eligible according to any of the three criteria noted above, an assessment is then conducted. Assessment refers to procedures that are used throughout the time a child is in early intervention to:

  • identify a child’s unique strengths and needs, and
  • determine what services are necessary to meet those needs.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), evaluations and assessments are provided at no cost to parents. They are funded by state and federal monies.

Selection of Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI-2)

As of September 2011, DARS ECI requires the use of one evaluation tool, the Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI-2) for eligibility determination. This is a change from the previous standard that allowed contractors to use one of four designated tools, one of which was the BDI-2. The BDI-2 is used by more state early intervention systems than any other tool.

This decision to use one tool was based primarily on stakeholder input received during the ECI Evaluation. Stakeholders recommended that DARS ECI promote consistency in service delivery across ECI programs in Texas. They identified the determination of eligibility as one area for which there should be more consistency. We believe that the use of one tool and the BDI-2 in particular, helps to ensure more consistent and fair eligibility.

DARS ECI conducted an extensive review of various tools before selecting the BDI-2. Criteria considered important were: norm-referenced; ability to obtain age-equivalent scores in all developmental areas; appropriate for use in the natural environment and opportunities to incorporate input from families; availability in Spanish; good psychometric properties, such as reliability and validity; ease of administration and scoring; and electronic options for administration and support.

We considered a number of tools, and conducted extensive reviews of five of them. We held a series of focused calls to gather input from more than 30 experienced early childhood intervention service providers. All of the service providers were licensed therapists, licensed social workers or early intervention specialists, and each had extensive experience with several of the tools. Our reviews also consisted of: an in-depth examination of the content, scoring and administration of the tools; input from researchers in early intervention; and meetings with the test developers/publishers.


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