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- Members and participants, please visit COVID-19: Program and ForwardHealth Updates for You and Your Family.
- County agencies, please visit COVID-19: Updates for County Agencies Serving Children with Delays or Disabilities.
- Providers, please visit the COVID-19: ForwardHealth News and Resources Portal page.
The Wisconsin Birth to 3 Program is an early intervention special education program that supports the growth and development of children under the age of 3 who have delays or disabilities. “Early intervention” is the term used to describe services and supports available to babies and young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. In Wisconsin, early intervention is known as the Birth to 3 Program.
The Birth to 3 Program values that a child’s first and most important relationships are with the family. Together with your family, the program supports the child’s development and your family’s knowledge, skills, and abilities as you interact with and raise the child. Your family’s culture, beliefs, and individual needs help shape how services are delivered.
Once found eligible, supports and services are provided by a team of professionals. They are meant to help boost your ability and confidence to support the growth and development of the child.
New to the Birth to 3 Program or want more information? Use the menu at the left of this page to learn about:
- Eligibility requirements
- How to contact us
- Program costs and parental cost share
The Birth to 3 Program Team
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) administers the Birth to 3 Program at the state level. DHS works with county health and human services or public health departments in all 72 counties to support local programs in meeting family and child needs.
A team of DHS staff for each region of the state works to support families and counties. See the Implementation and Technical Assistance Team Assignment Map, P-00996 (PDF), for more information.
The Birth to 3 Program is available in every Wisconsin county. Local Birth to 3 Programs in each county work directly with families. County staff are there to help you understand the program, make a referral to the Birth to 3 Program, answer your questions, and help you get support and services.
As part of the Birth to 3 Program, families have an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Your IFSP is a plan that guides and supports efforts to boost the child’s development during their time in the program. It is based on identified needs to help meet the unique goals of your family and the child.
As a member of the IFSP team, you are supported in increasing the child’s participation in your family’s daily routines and activities within your home and community by a full team of professional service providers. The professionals include:
- Early childhood special education teacher
- Speech, occupational, and physical therapist
- Service coordinator
- Other professionals or service providers as necessary
One of these professionals will be your primary coach, who will work with you during home visits and help support the child’s education and development.
Services and Supports
Together, your family and primary coach will talk about strategies, resources, supports, and services needed to reach the goals and outcomes added to your Individualized Family Service Plan or IFSP.
The services you receive—including in what way, how often, and how long—are based on the individual goals and outcomes of the child. Your IFSP might include special education services, physical, occupational, and speech therapy, service coordination, and other services as determined necessary by the team.
The IFSP is updated at least every six months and can always be changed, especially as the child learns, grows, and develops. All activities in the IFSP are provided to your family using the Birth to 3 Program coaching approach.
Families participating in the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Program have certain rights that help each child and family receive support and services fairly. DHS is committed to making the Birth to 3 Program available to all families.
What laws and regulations does the program have to follow?
- The Wisconsin Birth to 3 Program is a federally-mandated Early Intervention program. Specifically, it is governed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is a federal law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.
- Infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C.
- DHS is the lead agency for early intervention services in Wisconsin called the Birth to 3 Program. Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 90 includes regulations for implementing the statewide program.
What are my rights?
- Built into the Birth to 3 Program are specific rights. You can view these rights on Your Child’s and Family’s Birth to 3 Program Rights, P-21106. Programs are required to follow specific steps and respect your views and preferences about the services the child and family receives.
- You also have the right to resolve conflicts or disagreements related to all activities of the Birth to 3 Program.
How do I solve conflicts or disagreements?
There may be a time when you disagree with your county Birth to 3 Program about the child’s services. This is called a dispute. As a parent or caregiver, you have the right to disagree with the decisions made during evaluation for eligibility, assessment results, services, or payment of services for the child.
If you disagree with or don’t understand a decision that was made, there are many ways to find a solution. You can:
- Community Resources—Access advocacy organizations and community supports that can help answer questions, suggest programs and services, and assist with legal questions.
- Interagency Coordinating Council—Attend a council meeting or consider applying to be a member to make recommendations on how the Birth to 3 Program provides services, supports, and other assistance to Wisconsin children and their families.