Take Your First Steps With Early Steps
Take your first steps with Early Steps
The welcoming of a new child can bring parents a plethora of emotions. Who will they look like? How can we best care for our child? Where can I go for reliable advice? Navigating our first steps can sometimes be met with unexpected challenges. It is not uncommon for parents and family members to become concerned when their beautiful baby (or growing toddler) does not seem to be developing according to the typical schedule of “baby” milestones. If you have experienced this with your baby, please be aware we have support for you. Research shows Early Intervention is key! It has been proven that the first five years are important for the development of the child’s brain and the first three are critical in shaping the brain’s architecture. They will have a lifetime of direct impact on how children develop learning skills and social and emotional abilities. Every U.S. State and territory provides Early Intervention services through its own comprehensive, coordinated program. The State program in Florida is called Early Steps.
Some frequently asked questions:
What is Early Steps?
Early Steps is a statewide system of early intervention services for eligible infants and toddlers (birth to thirty-six months) with a significant delay or a condition likely to result in a developmental delay. Early Steps connects families with professionals who focus on parent education on how to improve the development of their children through everyday activities in their natural environment.
Are There Any Fees for Early Steps’ Services?
There is no income requirement to qualify for the program. Evaluations to determine eligibility are provided at no cost to families regardless of income. Early Steps services
are funded through Medicaid, private insurance and the federal IDEA, Part C. Families may be charged a co-pay for early Intervention services based on their annual income.
Referring Children with Developmental delays
Children under 36 months of age, who a physician determines may have a developmental delay, or are diagnosed with a condition very likely to cause a delay, may be referred to Early Steps. Parents can also self-refer if they have concerns.
Children will be evaluated by a team of professionals. If it is determined that the child has a significant delay in one or more of the following areas, they will be eligible for services:
- Physical (gross motor or fine motor)
Children diagnosed with an established condition likely to result in a developmental delay are automatically eligible for services. If a diagnosis of an established condition is made, please provide the family with written confirmation of the diagnosis on the referral form. Types of established conditions that automatically qualify children include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Neurological disorders
- Genetic/Metabolic disorders
- Birth weight of less than 1,200 grams
- Severe attachment disorders
- Sensory impairment (vision/hearing)
Features of Early Steps
- Brings services into the child’s life rather than fitting the child into services.
- Maximizes each child’s everyday natural learning opportunities.
- Enhances each child’s development and participation in community life.
- Provides each child with a consistent team for evaluation and services.
- Gives families options in service decisions and encourages active partnerships.
- Provides a primary service provider to work with your family, other caregivers, and the team.
If you suspect a child has a developmental delay…Refer to Early Steps today!
To make a referral to Early Steps, contact the local Early Steps program serving your area or call 1-800-218-0001.
Easterseals Florida currently holds the contract for the Treasure Coast Early Steps program-Serving Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties.
Intake# 1-561-882-6426 for Palm Beach County
Intake# 1-772-380-9601 for Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties
Website – www.easterseals.com/florida
More Early Intervention
- Early Intervention: First Steps in the Right Direction
- Are You on the Fence About Early Intervention: A Therapist’s Perspective
- Where Do I Go for Evaluations
- Miracle Babies What You Need to Know
- Autism and Early Intervention
- Early Intervention Games
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2021 Magazine