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Who Is Eligible?

California Early Start Program


  • Children birth to 3 years old.

  • Residents of San Diego or Imperial County.

  • Developmental delay in one or more of the following five areas: Cognitive; Communication; Social/Emotional; Physical; Adaptive.

  • 25% delay in at least one developmental area.

  • No financial qualifications necessary.


  • Established Risk for developmental disability: conditions known to cause delays in development (e.g. Down syndrome, Prader-Willi, Spina Bifida). Child need not be demonstrating delays at time of referral.


  • At risk for developmental disability (two or more factors):

    • Less than 32 weeks gestation and/or birth weight less than 1500 grams.

    • Assisted ventilation for 48 hours or longer during first 28 days of life.

    • Small for gestational age.

    • Asphyxia neonatorum.

    • Severe and persistent metabolic seizures during the first 3 years of life.

    • Neonatal seizures or non-febrile seizures during the first 3 years of life.

    • CNS lesion or abnormality.

    • CNS Infection.

    • Biomedical insult (injury, accident or illness) which may affect developmental outcome.

    • Multiple congenital anomalies.

    • Prenatal exposure to teratogens.

    • Prenatal substance exposure, positive tox screen or withdrawal.

    • Clinically significant failure to thrive.

    • Persistent hypertonia or hypotonia.


  • Parent of the infant/toddler is a person with a developmental disability.



Evaluation in the five areas of development to determine eligibility. Development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), including age 3 transition planning. Coordination of required Early Intervention services based on the needs of the child. Services may include: Assistive Technology; Audiology Services; Family Training, Counseling, Home Visits; Health Services; Medical Services (evaluations for early intervention services); Nursing Services; Nutrition Services; Occupational Therapy; Physical Therapy; Psychological Services; Service Coordination; Sign Language/Cued Language Services; Social Work Services; Special Instruction; Speech and Language Pathology; Transportation and Related Costs; Vision Services.

couple walking dog in forest together

Individuals (Ages 3 and Over)


  • Resident of San Diego or Imperial County.

  • No financial qualifications necessary.

  • Developmental disability:

    • Intellectual Disability – When a person has certain limitations in mental function and adaptive skills. The limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child.

    • Cerebral Palsy – A disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. It can be caused either when the brain does not develop properly during pregnancy or if there is damage to the brain before, during, or after birth.

    • Epilepsy – A neurological disorder that is characterized by recurrent seizures. Seizures may involve partial or complete loss of consciousness, uncontrolled body movements, excessive sleepiness, and loss of memory.

    • Autism – is a disorder that affects an individual’s ability to communicate, understand language, play, and relate to others. 

    • Other conditions found to be closely related to an Intellectual Disability or to require treatment similar to that required for individuals with an Intellectual Disability.


  • Originated prior to age 18 years.


  • Is likely to continue indefinitely.


  • Constitutes a substantial disability in three or more of the following areas: communication; learning; self-direction; capacity for independent living; economic self-sufficiency; self care; mobility.



Evaluation during intake process if needed to determine regional center eligibility. If eligible for regional center, assessment to assist with program planning. Development of the Individual Program Plan (IPP). Case Management/Service Coordination. Coordination of developmental disability services which may include: Residential Services; Transportation; Nursing Services; Behavior Intervention; Medical Services; Work Program; Psychological Services; Respite; Physical Therapy.


A child who is three or four years of age who is otherwise not eligible for regional center services as a result of a developmental disability shall be provisionally eligible for regional center services if a child has a disability that is not solely physical in nature and has significant functional limitations in at least two of the following areas of major life activity as determined by a regional center and as appropriate to the age of the child:

  1. Self-care

  2. Learning

  3. Receptive and expressive language

  4. Mobility

  5. Self-direction

*In order to process intake, SDRC must be contacted by the parent or legal guardian of a minor, the conservator, or the unconserved adult.

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