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How are children under 3 years of age referred to the SELPA DHH Early Start Program?

Most of the children in our program are referred via the Newborn Hearing Screening Program​.    

1) Babies are screened at birth.  Infants who receive a "refer" in either one or both ears after the hospital screening​ are referred for additional testing after discharge. The Hearing Coordination Center​​​ tracks babies who are referred.  

2) Babies are referred for more hearing tests at an audiologist's clinic.                            ​

3) If the baby is diagnosed with a hearing loss, a referral is sent  to the California Department of Education who then contacts the appropriate Early Start Program (by County or Region).   

4) In Sonoma County, the SELPA DHH Early Start Service Coordinator receives the referral and contacts the family to describe the program and offer services.


What to do if you suspect your child can't hear well:

Sometimes a child's hearing loss is not detected at birth.  If a child of ANY​ age is suspected of having a hearing loss:

Parents should discuss concerns with their child's pediatrician and request a referral for a hearing test. Time is of the essence!  The earlier a hearing loss is identified, the sooner appropriate intervention services can begin.  

If the concern includes speech and language delays and the child is under 3 years of age:

Parents or any professional working with the child may call the Early Start Warm Line at 1-800-646-3268.  

If the concern includes speech and language delays and the child is over 3 years of age:

Parents should go to their local elementary school and request a speech and language evaluation. Schools are required to provide evaluations and appropriate services for all eligible children in their district starting at age 3.​ 


What to do if a child over three years of age has a diagnosed hearing loss:

1) The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) administers an Itinerant DHH Program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students 3 through 22 years of age who are in other educational programs throughout Sonoma County (i.e., mainstream classes​ or ​other special education programs).  For information, visit SCOE DHH.

2) If you think a child may be eligible to attend the Special Day Class (SDC) Preschool or Elementary Program,  please contact the Program Manager, Cat Ayala at


Hearing loss is defined as any hearing impairment, unilateral or bilateral, permanent or fluctuating, that adversely impacts a student's educational performance.  For infants and toddlers, hearing loss is considered a known risk factor that can adversely impact their future educational performance.  

For detailed information regarding the different types and degrees of hearing loss that should lead to audiologist referrals (as recommended by the California Department of Education and the Department of Health Care Services), see:   Early​ Start Referral Guidelines for Audiologists​.​


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