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Most journeys begin with "First Steps"

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:13pm
If you suspect your infant or toddler has a disability, or developmental delays, you should talk to a doctor about it. While doctors have the best interests of children and their parents in mind, they may hesitate to intervene when they are not yet overly concerned themselves. Parents often leave the doctor's office with a false sense of security about their child's growth. To validate your concerns, you can print out thesemonth-by-month pagesand check the signs you see in your baby. It may help to keep a detailed log of the concerning behaviors your child exhibits. If you doctor wants you to "wait and see" you can ask for a second opinion, or make a referral toFirst Stepsyourself.

The goal of First Steps is to help Hoosier families make sure their infants and toddlers receive services now to help them in the future. The first three years of your child’s life are so important. Human learning and development are most rapid in the time from birth to age 3. That’s why it’s important to give a child the best start possible. The earlier a child with a disability or a developmental delay is diagnosed and gets help, the better that child’s ultimate quality of life.

There are several Steps to First Steps. You should print out this checklist to help ensure the process happens in a timely manner.

State Contact: 1-800-441-STEP (1-800-441-7837)

Local Contacts: To make a referral to the First Steps System, e-mail or call the Cluster System Point of Entry (SPOE) in your area:

The first thing the First Steps Intake Coordinator can do to help your infant or toddler get help is to schedule an initial assessment and evaluation. This service is paid for by First Steps and brings you together with a team of professionals or multidisciplinary team to identify any developmental delay or disability and recommend early intervention services that may benefit your child.

After the initial assessment and evaluation, it may be determined that your child is eligible and in need of early intervention services. An ongoing service coordinator will assist you by being the one person responsible for coordinating with all the various agencies who may provide services for your child, minimizing “red tape” and saving your family time, energy, and needless expense.

First Steps is “family-centered” in that services can support your family in the daily routines and activities of everyday living. To do this, you and the Service Coordinator sit down together to review the results of the assessment. Based upon your concerns, you will discuss what services your child may need, what resources are available to you in your community, what your family’s priorities are, what your family’s resources are and last, but not least, your hopes and dreams for your child.

This information then is written into the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which is a “road map” or action plan for the services your child and family may receive. It includes your major goals for your child; how progress will be measured; what and where services will be provided; when they will begin and for how long; methods of payment; and transition upon the child’s third birthday.

If you would like to talk to other families or find other resources in your area, you might want to contact Family to Family. They can connect you with a parent liaison or parent mentor who can help you if you need it. You can also contact Family to Family by phone: 1-800-964-4746 or email: familynetw@aboutspecialkids.org.

Children are constantly learning, right from birth.Their early years are the foundation for growth and development, and what they learn during those years depends on the experiences they have each and every day. This is our greatest challenge as caregivers, as well as our greatest opportunity.



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