Ask Your Service Coordinator


Frequently Asked Questions




Q.      Who is my Service Coordinator?

A.     Ask any of your early intervention home visitors who your service coordinator is.

Every child and family in Early Intervention services must have a service coordinator. Dakota County uses an embedded service coordination model which means your service coordination is one of the early intervention providers already coming to your home. You and your tem will discuss which of your early intervention home visitors would best serve as your service coordinator. It could be your EI Teacher, OT, PT, speech therapist or your public health nurse. The decision on who would be best as your service coordinator is a team decision. It can be based on the person that you feel knows your family best, the person whose expertise best matches your child’s and family needs, or the one that has the most expertise about the specific resources you need.

Q.      What is a service coordinator and how can a service coordinator help me?

A.         Service Coordination is part of early intervention service intended to help you begin to sort out the people, the services and what you want for your child and family. According to the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA), each family with a child age birth to three, who has early intervention services, is entitled to a service coordinator who is responsible for coordinating services, and serving as a single point of contact in helping parents obtain the services and assistance they need. The service coordination part of early intervention is there to help you. Please ask questions.

 These are some of the tasks a service coordinator can do for families.

  • Inform you of service delivery options so the best choice can be made
  • Assist in coordinating services that best fit the needs of your family.
  • Coordinate evaluations, assessments, and record gathering to provide services without duplicating efforts.
  • Assist in development, review, evaluation and revision of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP).
  • Connect your family with other families who have children with special needs and other support groups.
  • Inform you of community advocacy services.
  • Provide information on your child’s diagnosis or disability.
  • Facilitate the development of a transition plan to preschool services or other community help when appropriate.

Q.      Who can I talk to for support?

A.         Finding support is very important. Not every family desires the same kind of support. A variety of support resources are available.

  • Parent to parent. Talk to your service coordinator about how to connect with other parents
  • The Parent Newsletter that comes out three times a year lists various support groups in the county.
  • Online support groups associated with a child’s diagnosis.


Q.      What if I need financial help?

If you live in Dakota County contact the Dakota County Economic Assistance office at 651-554-5611. Below are some of the financial programs that may be able to assist you.

Cash Assistance: Cash Assistance programs assist people with low incomes. Cash programs include: Diversionary Work Program (DWP), Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), General Assistance (GA), Minnesota Supplemental AID (MSA), and Group Residential Housing (GRH). Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Emergency General Assistance (EGA) and Emergency Minnesota Supplemental Aid (EMSA).  Eligibility for these programs is based on income. To apply for these programs call 651-554-5611.

 Food Support: The food support program is a federal program    that helps Minnesotans with low income buy food. Food support benefits are available through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. Food support benefits are for single people or families without children. Amounts of benefits are determined by income and family size. To apply please call    651-554-5611

Child Care Assistance: Minnesota Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) can help pay child care costs for families with low incomes. CCAP may not cover all of the child care cost. The amount a family will have to pay for child care depends on the family’s income, the number of people in the family, and how much the child care provider charges. There is often a waiting list for child care assistance. Please call 651-554-5611 for more information. If you are on the waiting list it is important that you check your status frequently.


Q.     What is the State Health Care Program? 

A.        Health care programs provide health care coverage and may pay for all or part of a child’s medical bill. Heath care programs are for Minnesotans who meet certain guidelines and qualify within certain income and asset limits. These programs include:  Medical Assistance (MA), Minnesota Care, and General Assistance Medical Care (GMAC) are examples of health care programs that may be available to families.

Medical Assistance is A federal program that pays for medical care and some support services for low income families and individuals 18 years or older. MA is a funding source for a variety of services and programs for people with disabilities such as PCA series, Consumer Support Grant, and Waiver Programs. If you are a Dakota County resident you can call 651-554-5611 to request an application.

                TEFRA  (Tax Equity and Financial Responsibility Act of 1982) is a medical assistance program that provides medical assistance for children with qualifying disabilities who live with their families and do not qualify for medical assistance because the family’s income is too big.  There is a parental fee based on family income and family size. To estimate your fee, go to the DHS Parental Fee Estimator Home Page.

 *Medical Assistance or TEFRA may pay for diapers for children who are over 4 years old and have a disability that requires diapers. Physician approval is needed.

Q.      What are some other Sources of Funding?

 Part C Funds are for children birth to age three who are eligible for Early Intervention Services. The funds are approved for a 3-month time period and are administered by the Dakota County Interagency Early Intervention Committee.  Please talk to your service coordinator about accessing these funds.

 SSI. SSI stands for Social Security Income. SSI provides monthly income to blind or disabled people who have limited incomes and few resources. Children may qualify for disability payments if they qualify according to the Social Security Administration strict definition of disability for children. The child must have a physical or mental condition(s) that seriously limits his/her activities. The conditions(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least a year or until death. SSI considers the family’s household income and assets. For additional information on SSI see Social Security Webiste

 Q.      What are Developmental Disability Services-

            A.        Dakota County Developmental Disability Services (DD) provides services for children starting at birth who meet eligibility guidelines. Services may include case management, waivered services, consumer support grant program, and family support grant program. This service may require a fee based on family size and income. There is not an additional county fee if the parent already pays a state fee for TEFRA. Call 952-891-7259 or go to

 Q.      What are some services offered through the Dakota County Developmental Disability Unit?

 A.        Family Support Grant (FSG): This is a cash grant to families of eligible children to promote family health and prevent or delay an out-of-home placement. The maximum grant is $250 per month or $3,000 per year. The current income limit is $91,458 a year regardless of family size. There is no parental fee for a FSG grant, but there is a waiting list based on need. 

.           Consumer Support Grant (CSG): This is a grant that can be used to support people so they can remain in their own home. CSG is an alternative to traditional Personal Care Attendant (PCA), Private Duty Nursing (PDN) or Home Health Aide (HHA) services. The state assigns a monthly grant amount to participants based on their home care rating. Parents of disabled minors can receive payment to provide care that is above and beyond typical parenting.

MA Waiver Programs:  Waivered services are for children who are certified disabled and in need of a specified level of care. Waivered services can help a child live in the community as fully and independently as possible. A child must be on Medical Assistance or TEFRA to be considered.  Eligibility for these programs is determined by Dakota County Public Health and Social Services staff.

Q.      What is WIC (Women, Infants and Children)?

WIC is a Dakota County Public Health education and supplemental food and nutrition program for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants, and young children. The WIC program provides nutrition education, access to health services, referrals to health and human services and vouchers for supplemental foods. Call 952-891-7525.

Q.      What are PCA Services?

A.        PCA (Personal Care Attendant) services are available through TEFRA, MA or through your private health insurance plan (if covered). A PCA comes into the family home to assist a child with activities of daily living and can help with managing behaviors. Authorized PCA hours can be converted into a Consumer Support Grant (CSG), which is a reduced amount of cash instead of hours. A CSG must be managed by a Social Worker or a Public Health Nurse. Eligibility for PCA services or CSG is determined by Dakota County Public Health Nursing, unless the child is enrolled in a MA managed health care plan.

You need to be receiving MA or TEFRA before calling for a PCA assessment.  Dakota County Public Health 651-554-6115.

                                                                                  PCA Program

                                                                         Frequently Asked Questions








  1.  Can I get PCA if I am assigned to one of the medical assistance managed care health plans (Medica, Blue Cross, Health Partners)?



  • Yes.  Call Member Services to request a PCA assessment
  • The PCA assessment will determine eligibility and authorizations.



  1. Can I get PCA if I have private insurance?

  • “PCA” is a medical assistance service term; private insurance may not use the term of “PCA.”
  • Call Member Services to describe the service you are wanting.
  • Private insurance may cover a similar type of service based on your insurance coverage.

  1. Do I need TEFRA/MA first before I call for a PCA assessment or can I call if my application is pending?

  • If an MA application has been completed, wait until after MA approval before calling for a PCA assessment -Public Health Intake at 651.554.6115.



  1.  Can I hire a friend or family member to be my child’s PCA?



  • Yes.  A friend or family member can be hired after passing employment requirements, e.g., background check, etc.
  •  PCA Choice will allow the highest hourly pay.



  1.  What are the most recent changes to eligibility?

  • The 2009 Legislature changed the access and eligibility criteria along with the PCA assessment tool.

-           Must have at least 1 Activity of Daily Living (ADL) dependency and/or Level I Behavior meaning physical aggression towards self, other, or destruction of property that requires the immediate response of another person.

-          The PCA assessment  tool assigns PCA units to either dependencies or behaviors


  1. Can children with Autism and behavioral issue still get a PCA?



  • Must meet criteria.  See #5 answer.

  1. What if I lose my MA/TEFRA.  Do I lose my PCA?



  • A person must be on MA/TEFRA to receive PCA services. 
  • If a person loses MA eligibility, PCA services will be discontinued.



Q.      What is Home Care?

A.        Home care is an option that offers a range of medical and support services in the person’s home and community. Services range from assistance in actives of daily living, to a level of care similar to that provided in a hospital. To be eligible for home care services, recipients must be covered under certain programs such as MA or TEFRA. Contact your service coordinator for more information.

(Note. If you are enrolled in a private health plan you must contact your health plan for eligibility)

 A.      What is PART C/FSG respite care?

Q.        Respite care is short term, temporary care provided to persons with disabilities so their families can, “take a break” from daily routine of care giving. Unlike child care, respite services may sometimes involve overnight care for an extended period of time. If your child is age birth to three and receiving Early Intervention Services, your Service Coordinator can help you access funds. If your child currently receives Developmental Disability Services through the county, contact your assigned Social Worker to inquire about respite care funding.

Q.      What are Wrap-Around Services?

A.        Wraparound is a family-driven team facilitation process of working with children and their families to plan supports for a child’s mental health or behavioral issues.  It works to coordinate care and communication between the family and a child’s multiple service providers. A child is eligible for Wrap-Around services if they meet the criteria of Emotional Behavioral Disorder (EBD) as determined by the school district or the criteria for Severe Emotional Disorder (SED).Dakota County Social Services, Wrap Access Coordinator, 952-891-7425.

Q.      How can Dakota County Public Health Help Me?

A.        Dakota County Public Health can provide access to a public health nurse (PHN) who may visit a child and their family one-ne-one in their home. A PHN may work with a family in understanding their child’s health care needs. A PHN can also connect you to community supports. Call 651-554-6115 for more information.

Q.      How do I find child care?

A.        For child care providers in Dakota County, call Resources for Child Caring at 651-641-0332 or

 Q.      Where do I find information on Head Start?

A.        The Dakota/Scott County CAP agency offers Head Start for children age three to five in various Dakota County locations. Eligibility is based on income for most children but some slots are open to children with special needs who are over income guidelines.

Early Head Start
Early Head Start is a home-based, year-round program for infants and toddlers, age birth to three, and their parents. The program includes one home visit each week and two group socialization experiences each month. Early Head Start is available in Dakota County only.

 Head Start PLUS
Head Start PLUS is a CAP Agency Head Start program designed to serve children who are victims of or at risk of abuse and neglect. Eligibility for Head Start PLUS is based on the existence of these risk factors. Services are available to families with incomes in excess of Head Start guidelines. Program participation is generally initiated by a referral from a community partner, such as Public Health or Social Services, but self-referrals are accepted when a family identifies themselves to be at risk

Call the CAP Agency at 651-322.6115 or

 Q.    What is ECFE?

A.    ECFE stands for Early Childhood Family Education. Each school district offers a    variety of classes for children and their parents. Contact your local school district for ECFE programs and classes in your school district.

 Q.        What are some community resources for my family?

A.        Your service coordinator can also provide you with a local community service directory.

Q.        What is the Annual Dakota County Early Childhood Parent Retreat and Conference?

A.        Since 1995 Dakota County IEIC has provided an annual conference and retreat for parents whose children receive Early Intervention Services in the Dakota County School Districts. The retreat offers parents an opportunity to meet other parents, learn about community resources, relax and take a break from caring for their children. The retreat is held in the spring and is held on Saturday and Sunday. The cost of the retreat is generally around $30 per person and includes access to all workshops and speakers, lunch and dinner on Saturday, overnight stay at the hotel, and breakfast on Sunday. Look for information in February or ask your service coordinator for more information.

Q.        Do families of children receiving early intervention services have special rights in the Education System?

A.        Yes, there are parental special education rights called procedural safeguards. Your service coordinator will provide you with information on your rights and advocacy choices.

 Q.        What is informed consent?

 A.        Informed consent means that you have been fully informed of the information relevant to the activity for which your written permission is required. Consent is voluntary and is obtained in writing before conducting evaluations or providing services.

 Q.        What if I have a concern about services?

A.        At any time during your participation, if you do not agree on plans or services, or if you have other concerns about your experience, there are options for resolving the dispute.

  • Share your concerns with your service coordinator or someone on your team.
  • You may request an IFSP or an IEP meeting to resolve the issue(s). You may request that a PACER or ARC advocate attend the meeting with you to assist in resolutions.
  • You may contact your service coordinator’s supervisor or any other team member’s supervisor.
  • You may also file a written complaint with the Minnesota Department of Education.


Any questions or updates to this service coordination resource should be directed to:

Janell Schilman, Early Intervention/Collaborative Coordinator

Dakota County Western Service Center

Dakota County Social Services

14955 Galaxie Avenue                         

Apple Valley MN 55124

Phone: 952-891-7449

Fax: 952-891-7473