Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Early Intervention
Early intervention services are federally mandated for children birth to three with developmental issues. Each state's lead agency is expected to set-up a comprenhensive child find system to identify young children in need of services, to ensure that when a needy child is identified a formal referral is made within two working days, to ensure that evaluations are timely, comprehensive, and multi-disciplinary, to develop an ISFP for the child and family within 45 days of referral, and to make services available to all young children with disabilites (eligibility varies by state). 

IFSP services may include OT, PT, speech, nutrition, nursing services, hearing and vision assessments and treatment, social work, special instruction,  assistive devices, and transportation.

The quality and quantity of early intervention services vary among states and locales. Complex policies and procedures often stymie easy access, are disjointed, and do not always consider the needs or realities of teenage mothers, substance abusing mothers, and children in foster care. PNPs may need to advocate for appropriate and timely services. In addition, one-third of infants who would be eligible for EI services are not referred.

References and Resources:

One-third of eligible infants do not get early intervention referral:

Barth, R., Scarborough, A., Lloyd, E., Losby, J., Casanueva, C., & Mann, T. (2008). Developmental Status and Early Intervention service needs of maltreated children. US Department of Health and Human Services.

Derrington, T. & Lippitt, J. (2008). From science to policy to practice: The evolving implementation of federally mandated referrals for chid welfare to part c early intervention, Zero To Three, 28, 18-24.

Early Intervention Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (IDEA Part C):

Osofsky, J. & Lieberman, A. (2011). A call for integrating a mental health perspective into systems of care for abused and neglected infants and young children. American Psychologist, 66: 120-128.