Speech assessment for toddler (Kaiser or other low-cost option?)


I've searched in the archives but found no mention of no/low-cost early intervention "birth to three" services for toddlers. I have Kaiser insurance and was referred by my pediatrician to a group class on communicating with toddlers, but it did not seem to pertain to the issues my son has (probable moderate apraxia of speech). We may still be able to get an appointment for an evaluation, but I have my doubts about whether Kaiser really knows or cares about this diagnosis. Has anyone had a different experience? Or if you ended up going somewhere else for a screening and services, where did you go? How helpful was it? 

Thank you! 

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Regional Center of the East Bay offers developmental services to children under 3 years old. You can self refer and they have a specific amount of time to respond to you and to evaluate your child. If she qualifies they will provide a speech therapist on a weekly basis. 
My 2 year old was evaluated by the Regional Center and by Kaiser. Kaiser’s services were abysmal compared to what Regional Center was able to provide -  a highly skilled SLP who came to our house every week. 510 618 6100

The Regional Center of the East Bay serves kids 0-21 with developmental delays/disabilities. They can assess and provide free services but it takes about 2-3 months to get started. We did this plus get a speech eval from Kaiser. It took  lot of pushing and a sympathetic pediatrician. First they would have you do an ASQ short questionnaire ( looking for autism). I also paid a private speech therapist to do one time observation-- not cheap.  Lucky for us, he started "talking" a month later ( was 20 months old at the time with no speech-no babbling) Good luck!! Don't wait!!

My son had a mild impediment. We emailed his Kaiser pediatrician explaining the problem (lisp and trouble with making "th" sound). This was when he was four and in pre-school. Our pediatrician referred us to the speech therapist without an appointment, and my son was evaluated and a plan put together. I was very impressed with the therapist, and after 3 months my son had significant improvement. We continued therapy once a month for a little over a year since it was diagnosed as mild. Have you specifically asked for a referral for an assessment? Could it be that your son is too young to really diagnose at this point?


You might want to research/contact the local regional center (www.rceb.org -- the Regional Center of the East Bay is located in San Leandro). They do early intervention for toddlers (0-3); our kid is just going through a speech assessment there. They'll do an assessment and if your kiddo qualifies, they'll make a treatment plan and he/she can get any services that Kaiser doesn't provide. So if you're doing a group class on communication at Kaiser, they won't have him do the same thing, but they may offer some other type of therapy. It's free, though there may be a fee for higher income families. So far our experience there has been good. Hope this helps!


Contact the Regional Center. They offer evaluations free of charge and will provide speech therapy at your home if you qualify. Our daughter was just diagnosed with ASD and we will only been able to work with them for a couple of months since our daughter turns three soon and that's the cut off age when the school district takes over. We wish we could work with them longer since our case manager has been great the services we have received have been awesome. 

Oh one other thing, we just got our daughter evaluated at Kaiser for speech just in case something happens with the school. She got approved for speech for an hour a week but we would have to do copays and bring her to Kaiser for sessions. Regional center services come to you so  it's been super convenient for us. Good luck!

Kaiser tried to send me to one of those classes. I asked if it was required in order to receive future services and they admitted it wasn’t. I didn’t have childcare to be able to attend so they agreed to send my (then) 20 monther for evaluation (she didn’t qualify for regional intervention). I usually despise kaiser (we’ve since switched out of frustration) but I LOVED our speech therapist. Her name was Lakshmi V. In Oakland (sorry I don’t remember her last name other than it starting with a V). She was warm and attentive and enthusiastic and my kid loved her too and eagerly participated. At that age therapy is more teaching the parents how to engage but I found it fairly helpful and after about 2-3 months the kiddo caught up to where she was supposed to be (probably would’ve happened without therapy but it certainly didn’t hurt!)

Hi - fellow KP mom here. I recommend that you seek out support for your child simultaneously in two different ways. First ask your KP pediatrician for a referral to the pediatric development office in Oakland for an evaluation. When you have that evaluation a very experienced speech therapist will thoroughly evaluate your child. Most therapy provided by Kaiser for speech is done by outside therapists that Kaiser pays directly (of course you pay your co-pay if any). Secondly I recommend that you contact the Regional Center Of The East Bay. They will also do an evaluation and can provide you with early intervention support as well. If you’re lucky, both KP and the RCEB will offer you services. You can take advantage of both and get as much intervention as you can for your child during these early years. Feel free to message me if you have any questions!

You may want to call your school district about this.

For all suspected developmental delays for kids under 3, Regional Center is responsible for the assessment and intervention. Uncertain if intervention is completely free these days. I believe there is a sliding scale and insurance is expected to provide at BB least part of it.

 That said, Regional Center is on the hook to evaluate. And there are tight  timelines for getting evaluation done, so look up the deadlines and make sure to communicate in writing as well as by phone. Even if your income is too high for all services to be free, the kid gets the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment planning.  If qualified for Regional Center services, there is a case manager/advocate who helps and facilitate transition to school district when kids turns 3. Totally worth wading through the red tape to get it done. Good luck!