Federal law requires that children receive Early Intervention (EI) services in their “Natural Environment.” The child’s Natural Environment is simply the places where the child would normally spend his or her day if he or she did not have a developmental delay or a disability. Examples include the child’s home, day care center, or other community settings (such as a playground, YMCA, or even a restaurant). A specialized or clinical facility can only be used if the child’s needs require such a restrictive setting.
If the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) team wishes to provide services outside of the Natural Environment, the reason for doing so must be explained in the IFSP. For services provided outside of the Natural Environment, transportation and related costs that are necessary to enable the child and/or the child’s family to receive services must be provided.