Early ACCESS

Early Access logoEarly ACCESS is Iowa’s early intervention system (IDEA Part C) for infants and toddlers under 3 years old who are not developing as expected or who have a medical condition that can delay typical development. Families and Early ACCESS staff work together to identify, coordinate and provide needed services and resources that help families assist their infants and toddlers in their growth and development. Early ACCESS is a partnership between families with young children and providers from:

Anyone can refer children under the age of 3 to Early ACCESS, including parents, family members, medical providers and childcare providers. If you are not a family member making a referral, be sure you have the family’s permission to do so.

A Family Guide to Early ACCESS

Learn more about Early ACCESS and how families feel about the providers who assist them and their children.

Eligibility Criteria

Before you can participate in Early ACCESS, your child must be determined eligible.

  • Early ACCESS is for children birth to 3 years of age.
  • In Iowa, children with certain diagnosed conditions are automatically eligible for Early ACCESS.
  • An evaluation may be completed by Early ACCESS to determine eligibility. A child is eligible for Early ACCESS if they have a 25% delay in one or more areas of development. Areas include: talking, moving, seeing, listening, thinking, eating, or playing. The evaluation uses information obtained from many sources, including information from you, an evaluation tool, observations of your child and a review of your child’s medical records.

Early ACCESS Roles

Every family in Early ACCESS will work with a service coordinator. As your main contact for Early ACCESS they will:

  • Communicate with the team to coordinate evaluations, assessments, team meetings and the development of the Individualized Family Service Plan.
  • Partner with you to identify the appropriate services, resources, and supports necessary to benefit the development of your child.

Early ACCESS service providers coach you, so you can help your child. They will:

  • Help you identify your family’s daily routines, priorities, and needs for your child to establish goals that are important for your family.
  • Plan and practice interventions that can be used by you and/or other caregivers throughout the day in your child and family’s routines and activities.

You play a critical role in your child’s development. As part of the team you will:

  • Be involved in the visits with your service provider so that you can learn how to support your child’s development.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to practice new skills every day during your family routines and activities.

Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs)

The goal of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) process is to empower families with the resources, skills and processes to meet the needs of an eligible child and their family in order to enhance the child’s growth and development. The IFSP is written in collaboration with the family and can be modified based on the changing needs of the child and the family in accordance with Division VII and Division VIII of these rules. Parents and families shall be continually involved in all aspects of the identification, evaluation and assessment; IFSP planning, implementation, evaluation, review and revision processes; and transition planning.

For a child who has been evaluated for the first time and determined to be eligible, a meeting to develop the initial IFSP must be conducted within the 45-day time period indicated in rule 281 – 120.30(34CFR303). Meeting arrangements shall be made with, and written notice provided to, the family and other participants in advance of the meeting date to ensure that the parties will be able to attend.

More Information

For additional information about Early ACCESS in Iowa, visit:

Iowa Department of Education

Iowa Family Support Network


Guidance Documents

Early ACCESS Procedures

Early ACCESS Release Notes (July 2020)

Early ACCESS Procedural Safeguards for Parents

Early ACCESS Summary of Parents Rights

Iowa Administrative Rules of Early ACCESS


How to Make a Referral

If you think your child, age birth to 3 years, may need assistance, you can make a referral in one of two ways: directly to Heartland AEA or through the Iowa Family Support Network.

Heartland AEA

OR  

Iowa Family Support Network

Children Who Reside in Des Moines

Please note that if your child resides in the Des Moines Public School district, he/she would receive services from the district rather than from Heartland AEA. If your child resides in the Des Moines district, contact: 

Ariel Palmer
(515) 242-8213


More Information

For additional information about Early ACCESS in Iowa, visit:

Iowa Department of Education

Early ACCESS