Early intervention provides support and resources for family members and caregivers as they enhance children’s development through everyday learning opportunities.

The Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides services to the young children in our county in partnership with Stark County Early Intervention (formerly Help Me Grow) and all 17 of our local school districts. Early Intervention services are available to families whose children have been deemed eligible.

The Early Intervention Approach

Children with developmental disabilities ages birth – 3yrs

Offered since 1968, the Stark County Early Intervention (EI) program is built on the philosophy that every child is unique and capable of learning, and that each family plays the primary role in their child’s development. Staff members understand that some children require extra help to reach their full potential.

Through a team approach and with respect for cultural diversity, our staff members provide specialized coaching, specific techniques, and appropriate resources to parents and caregivers. These may be used in every day interactions and routines with young children.

Principals of Early Intervention

  1. Infants and toddlers learn best through everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts.
  2. All families, with the necessary supports and resources, can enhance their children’s learning and development.
  3. The service provider’s primary role is to work with and support family members and caregivers in children’s lives.
  4. The early intervention process, from initial contacts through transition, must be dynamic and individualized to reflect the child’s and family members’ preferences, learning styles and cultural beliefs.
  5. IFSP outcomes must be functional and based on children’s and families’ needs and family-identified priorities.
  6. The family’s priorities, needs and interests are addressed most appropriately by a primary provider who represents and receives team and community support.
  7. Interventions with young children and family members must be based on explicit principles, validated practices, best available research, and relevant laws and regulations.

Eligibility for Early Intervention Services

To be eligible for Stark County’s Early Intervention services, a child must be a resident of Stark County, under three years of age, and have been found eligible under the guidelines of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Early Intervention Part C for children birth to 3 years of age.

Infants and children are determined eligible when they’ve experienced a significant developmental delay, or have a medical diagnosis which has a high probability of resulting in delays, in one or more of the following areas:

  • Cognition – Thinking and problem solving.
  • Communication – Understanding, gesturing, and talking.
  • Social/Emotional – Getting along with others and expressing feelings.
  • Physical Development – Refining gross and fine motor skills.
  • Adaptive skills – self-help and daily living skills.
  • Vision and/or Hearing difficulty or ongoing medical concerns.

Cost of Services

There’s no cost to the families for Stark County’s Early Intervention services.

Early Intervention services are funded through local and state tax dollars. Local dollars are provided through the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities levies plus funding from the State of Ohio for service coordination.

What to Expect

Your Help Me Grow service coordinator will facilitate your referral to our program.

Upon referral, your Service Coordinator (SC) will present your child’s case to our Stark County Early Intervention Team. This team includes:

  • Service Coordinator
  • Developmental Specialists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech and Language Pathologists

  • Registered Dietician
  • Early Intervention Assistants
  • Stark County Service Coordinator Supervisor
  • Stark DD Early Childhood Supervisor.

Based upon your expressed concerns for your child, one of these team members will be chosen to be the Primary Service Provider (PSP) for your family.

Initial Evaluation

Your Service Coordinator and PSP will arrange a time convenient for your family to complete a developmental evaluation with your child and assist in identifying your concerns regarding your child’s development. These individualized, confidential conversations are conducted by phone or in meetings. Your PSP and Early Intervention Team are available to answer your family’s questions and will provide ongoing assistance for your child and family throughout your participation in EI.


Your SC and PSP will collaborate with you and your family to plan and complete an assessment for your child. This assessment is designed to gather important information about your child’s unique learning style within your daily activities. Shortly after completion, the SC or PSP will review the results of your child’s developmental assessment with you.

Individualized Family Service Plan

The assessment results will be used to help guide you in designing your child’s Early Intervention services. Your child’s intervention services will be formalized through an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP meeting will be arranged by your service coordinator. You are encouraged to include family members, friends and other significant individuals in the writing of this plan. Your IFSP will include your concerns, a summary of your child’s developmental assessment results, the outcomes you set for your child and family, and a listing of the EI services necessary to address those outcomes. This plan will be used to guide services and track your child’s progress.

Ongoing Early Intervention Services

Once Stark DD Early Intervention services are officially listed on your child’s IFSP, delivery of these ongoing services will begin. EI services are available in your home or other community setting, such as day care or the home of a family babysitter. Your family’s intervention program is adjusted based on your child’s progress and the changing needs of the family. In addition, services are provided to meet the scheduling demands of families between Monday and Friday. We accommodate evening appointments. Progress is reviewed with the entire EI team on a quarterly basis and families are invited and encouraged to participate by phone during these reviews.

Transition to Preschool Services

At age 3, children are no longer eligible for EI services. Nine months prior to your child’s 3rd birthday, your service coordinator, PSP, and your family will begin to prepare for your child’s transition process from EI to preschool.

Prior to 3 months before your child’s 3rd birthday, your SC, PSP and school district representative will hold a Transition Meeting. This meeting will give you the opportunity to learn about services available to your child once they turn three years old if they are determined by the district to meet IDEA Part B eligibility for services as a preschooler. Per federal law, a child’s home school district becomes responsible for educating a preschool aged child who has been identified with special needs.



“If you have concerns about your child’s development, you have the right to an evaluation. Contact Early Intervention services to request and evaluation for your child ages birth through 3 years of age.

CALL: 330-616-3322


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours of services?

Monday through Friday, times determined between service providers and families—evening appointments are available

What are the services available to my child?

Service coordination and coaching on how to help your child progress in the areas expressed by you as most important. These areas include overall development, communication, feeding, sensory needs, behavior, fine and gross motor.

Will EI services cost me money?

No, there is no cost to the family for EI services.

When and where are services provided?

All services are provided in typical settings where other children that age without any type of delay would be spending their time—the family home, a day care center, a babysitter’s home, etc. The place and time for the service provision is chosen by the family, and occurs between Monday to Friday. The number of visits each month are determined by the need of the child and wishes of the family. Evening visits are provided if needed by the family and varied schedules are available as well. For example, a parent who works during the day may choose to have a combination of having the PSP meet during the day once a month with the babysitter so she may learn strategies to reinforce development and then have the PSP meet once a month in the evening with parents so they are able to reinforce the skill development as well.

What ages are served in Part C Early Intervention?

Birth to the 3rd birthday (36 months).

Who will complete my child’s evaluation?

Your assigned service coordinator and the person the team feels most likely meets your initial expressed concerns for your child. This person is call the Primary Service Provider (PSP).

What if my child has a diagnosis from a medical professional?

There are medical diagnoses that automatically qualify a child for services. If your child’s diagnosis is not on this list, he/she will need to go through our evaluation process to determine eligibility for EI services.

What other resources are available?

For parents who are not interested in the Primary Service Provider coaching method used by the Stark DD Early Intervention team, the option of taking their child to traditional therapy sessions at various outpatient clinics throughout the Stark County area is always available.

How are Stark County Early Intervention services different than the traditional medical model of service provision?

Stark County PSP services are designed to coach parents on how to work with their child on a daily basis and within family activities and routines in order to have consistent skill development throughout the day. Family activities and routines are very important as strategies given are designed to help a child be a greater part within these activities and not just exercises to do until the next therapy session. The parents are empowered in order to make decisions on what to do next to help advance their child’s skills.

Traditional medical model consists of direct one-on-one treatment to accomplish set goals. It may be provided in a hospital, clinic or home environment, depending upon the specific service provider chosen. There is a fee for services, payment for which may be provided by the family, private insurance or Medicaid. Medical team determines focus, frequency and duration of therapy which may often times be determined by insurance carrier.

What happens if my child reaches his/her developmental milestones and we no longer have concerns?

Participation in Stark County Early Intervention services is strictly voluntary. Parents may withdraw from services at any time, whether due to child meeting their milestones or parents just not wishing to receive EI services any longer.

Are there activities in the community in which my child who receives EI services may participate?

A weekly playgroup is held on Tuesdays from 10:00-11:00am at various locations across Stark County. The playgroup is open to all EI families and members of the community. A monthly newsletter is produced by Stark County DD EI assistants listing playgroup locations and ideas of fun activities to do together. To sign up to receive a newsletter, phone Donna Mathes at 330-479-3484, or e-mail mathesd@starkdd.org.