Common Questions - Birth to Three Program

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Birth to Three is Wisconsin’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. A federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) provides a framework for comprehensive programming. The Department of Health oversees the Birth to Three Program in Wisconsin and has rules (DHS 90) that specify the program requirements.

Birth to Three recognizes the importance of families and caregivers in the growth and development of a young child. Emphasis is placed on supporting caregivers in their child’s daily routines and activities in ways that will promote optimal growth and development.

What happens when my child turns three?

Many children have “caught up” with their development prior to their third birthday. If not, they may qualify for services through the local school district, or parents may choose to participate in private therapies or community preschools. Some children may be eligible for Head Start. More information is available at Wisconsin’s Birth to 3 website:

What do services cost?

Screening, evaluation, and service coordination are provided at no cost to families. If a child is found to be eligible for services, private insurance is billed for covered services with parental consent. There is also a parental cost share, which is based on family size and income. State and federal allocations and county tax levy funds support the Birth to 3 Program.

Who do I contact with questions or to start receiving care?

Children can be referred for screening by anyone who has a concern about a child’s development. Most referrals are made by parents, physicians, or community providers.

For referrals in Marathon, Langlade or Lincoln counties in Wisconsin, please contact North Central Health Care Birth to Three at 1.715.848.4580.

To locate the Birth to Three Program for any Wisconsin county, contact Wisconsin First Step for children with special needs at 1.800.642.7837.

What services and supports might be available?

Each child’s plan of service is based on their individual strengths and needs. All services are provided within the child’s natural environment, such as at home, daycare, or other community settings. Some of the services and supports that might be provided to meet the outcomes identified for a child and family include:

  • Family Education
  • Developmental Education Services
  • Communication Services
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy

Who is eligible?

Birth to 3 is for children birth to 36 months of age and their families. Eligibility is based on a diagnosed disability or significant developmental delay in one or more areas of development. Screening is provided for any child who is suspected of having a delay in development at no cost to the family. If screening indicates a need for a more in-depth evaluation, a Service Coordinator and a team of professionals evaluate the child’s ability to:

  • Learn (cognitive development)
  • Move, see, and hear (physical/motor development)
  • Respond to and relate with others (social and emotional development)
  • Understand and communicate (speech and language development)
  • Eat, dress and care for daily living needs (adaptive development)

When a child is eligible for Birth to 3 services, the family and early intervention team will work together to identify services and supports for the child.