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Concerned about your child's development? Finding free help in Denver (Part 1)


Sweet smile
photo by criscris1

Do you have concerns about your child's speech, motor or cognitive development? Are you worried your child may be experiencing delays in one or more areas of development?  You should be aware that there is help available - and it is free!

If you have concerns about your child's development you are entitled to receive a free developmental evaluation for your child. If he qualifies, you will also receive free early intervention services in your home or at your local school.  Here's what you need to know:

First, make contact with your school district or Community Centered Board. If your child is under 3, you need to contact your local "Community Centered Board" (CCB).  In Denver county, this is Denver Options. You can download a referral form from their web site or call (303) BIRTH 2 3 or (303) 247-8423. If you are outside of Denver County, Denver Options offers a handy database to find the CCB in your county. Or check the Early Intervention Colorado web site.

If your child is 3 or over,  or is currently enrolled in a private school, contact your local school district and ask for the Child Find Office. In Denver, you should call Denver Public Schools Child Find at 720-423-8001.

Next, schedule an evaluation. When you call, you will share your concerns about your child's development with the staff. They will want to know which areas of development you are concerned about. Once they have identified your areas of concerns, they will schedule an initial screening and/or evaluation.

At your initial appointment, your child will participate in a play-based evaluation with a team of licensed service providers. You will be present for the entire session. There is no need to be nervous. These evaluations are very child friendly and are held in a preschool classroom type environment. Your child will think he's just getting to play with a bunch of really fun toys and great people. And if you feel your child isn't demonstrating all he knows and can do, let the team know. Parent input is a very important part of the process.

After the evaluation, the team of service providers will develop a report summarizing your child's development. You will then be invited back for a meeting to discuss these results. This is usually a very positive experience for parents because you receive a great deal of information about your child's strengths as well as areas of concern.

If your child does not qualify for services the team will provide you with some helpful things to try at home to address your concerns. You will be invited to schedule another evaluation if you still have concerns after 6 months or a year.

If your child does qualify for services, this article will walk you through what to expect from this point.

Read Concerned about your child's development? What to expect after the initial evaluation (Part 2)

For more information about your child's development:

Developmental Milestones For Your Child's First Five Years

Late Blooming or Language Problem?

How Does Your Child Hear and Talk? (Includes receptive and expressive language milestone checklist)

Autism Symptoms and Warning Signs

To connect with other parents whose children are experiencing delays:

PEAK Parent Center

The Englewood Autism Meetup Group

Autism Social Skills Group