For more than 20 years, federal law has recognized the importance of providing early intervention (EI) services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. State systems to serve this population have been established and refined since the federal grant program and its accompanying requirements governing EI were created in 1986. Every state provides EI services, although the states differ in regard to a number of dimensions, including the lead agency that administers the program, the constellation and organization of local programs that provide services, and how services are funded.
This National Early Intervention Longitudinal Study (NEILS) report presents the key findings from a national longitudinal study that followed children who were identified when younger than 3 years of age as meeting their state’s eligibility criteria for EI and whose families were subsequently provided with those services. NEILS is the first and only national look at important policy issues such as which children and families are being served in EI programs, what services they receive, and what outcomes they experience. This report summarizes some of the key findings from this 10-year study and notes their implications for policy, practice, and additional research.