Family Centered Early Supports & Services (FCESS), also known as ESS, provide resources to children from birth to three years of age and their families, including a developmental evaluation, therapeutic interventions, guidance, instruction, referral to community resources and emotional support.

Early Supports & Services professionals partner with families in addressing their priorities and concerns. While building on families' existing strengths, they aid in exploring resources that would help the child and his or her family.

The evaluation (and subsequent services if determined eligible) looks a lot like play and is usually very enjoyable for both child and family. The evaluation team may include professionals in the fields of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, early childhood education, behavioral intervention, social work and other consultative services. ESS staff members work with families to support their children's progression through developmental milestones, respecting families' values, needs, cultures and priorities in the natural settings of homes and childcare facilities.

Is my child eligible?
To be eligible for Family-Centered Early Supports & Services in New Hampshire, children must meet one of the three specific eligibility categories:

  • Established condition;

  • Developmental delay of 33% or greater in any area of development (physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional or adaptive development), or

  • At risk for developmental delay (in five or more documented conditions or circumstances).

A comprehensive developmental evaluation is provided to assist in determining a child's eligibility for services. If your child is determined to be eligible, an Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) will be developed to address your child's needs. Children eligible for ESS are also eligible for Children's Service Coordination at MDS.

Can I afford this service for my child?
Family Centered Early Supports & Services are funded by state and federal funds, private and third party insurances. No child will be declined for services because of the family's lack of financial resources.

What happens when my child turns three?
Each child who enters ESS receives service coordination. As a child moves through ESS, service coordination is provided to be sure that the child's transition into the school system or other community settings will be seamless. Your Service Coordinator, as agreed upon by you and your team, will work with you through the transition process.

Who can make a referral?
Parents, or with parents' permission, extended family, physicians, child care providers or anyone with a concern about a child's development can make a referral. Call the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at 603-352-1304 to make a referral. Please be prepared to provide your child's full name, date of birth, parents' names and contact information, and insurance information. The Intake Coordinator will arrange an appointment with you to explain the program, gather relevant information for the evaluation team, and assist with signing the necessary releases and consents. The evaluation team will then contact you to schedule an evaluation to determine eligibility for the program.