What is First Steps?
First Steps is Kentucky’s Early Intervention System (KEIS) that serves children from birth to age 3 who have a developmental delay or a particular medical condition that is known to cause a developmental delay. First Steps services are provided statewide and coordinated by the lead agency, Cabinet for Health Services. Anyone in your community, including yourself, can call the district Point of Entry (POE) office to refer a child suspected of having a delay to the First Steps service system.
Is My Child Eligible for First Steps Services?
With your permission, staff from the district POE office will visit your family, explain the First Steps program, assign an Initial Service Coordinator, and arrange for an evaluation, if needed, to determine if your child will be eligible for services. This evaluation is a procedure to see if your child has a significant delay in one or more of the following skill areas: communication, mobility, learning, social, emotional, and adaptive/self-help. If the evaluation shows that your child is eligible because of a developmental delay or established risk condition, (particular medical condition) then the POE will work with you and your child to arrange the necessary services.
What is the Individual Family Service Plan?
The POE Initial Service Coordinator, along with your family, physician, and the evaluation team, will design an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), identify needed resources, then obtain and coordinate early intervention services for your child and your family. For example, if the evaluation shows a delay in communication, speech therapy may be necessary. Therefore, the Initial Service Coordinator will inform you about all the speech therapists in your area, and you may choose the therapist that fits your needs. Once all the service providers are identified, this team meets with you to complete the IFSP. This should be done within 45 days. Also at the initial IFSP meeting, a Primary Service Coordinator is determined, based on your choice. This Primary Service Coordinator will take over the duties of the POE Initial Service Coordinator and will serve your family until your child leaves the First Steps Program. Services are individualized and based on your child’s need. The IFSP will be reviewed at least every 6 months and adjusted by the Primary Service Coordinator and family as needed.
What is the cost of First Steps Services to My Family?
Evaluation and assessment to determine your child’s needs and service coordination is at no cost to the family. For other services identified in the IFSP, First Steps requires families, based on the sliding fee scale, to contribute a modest amount toward payment for the services their child receives. Based on your total household income you may or may not be asked to make this “Family Share” contribution. The contribution amounts range from $0 to a maximum of $50 per month for each month your child receives services. If your child is eligible for the Kentucky Medical Assistance Program (KMAP) of KCHIP then KMAP or KCHIP will cover most First Steps costs. You may use your private health insurance if you choose to, but you are not obligated to do so. Doing so may reduce or eliminate your “Family Share” contribution. Check with your insurance carrier to fully learn what your private health insurance will cover and if there are any restrictions.
What are my Rights as a First Steps Family?
You have specific rights under the First Steps Program. The Family Rights Handbook fully explains each of your rights and how to exercise them. As a First Steps family, you have the right to:
- Choose the services you want for your child based on the evaluation.
- Give written permission to share your child’s personal information.
- Review all records.
- Receive a written notice before a change is made in your child’s IFSP.
- Have any complaints heard through a process explained in the Family Rights Handbook.
What Happens As My Child Approaches His/Her Third Birthday?
Children in the First Steps Program are eligible for services until their 3rd birthday. In order to help you learn about and decide on available services for your child after leaving First Steps, a Transition Planning Meeting must be held at least 90 days prior to your child’s 3rd birthday. This transition Planning Meeting will be coordinated by your Primary Service Coordinator. The
meeting may be attended by you, your Primary Service Coordinator, your child’s service providers and invited staff from any of the program(s) in your
community for 3 to 5 year olds that you and your Service Coordinator identify as appropriate, such as Head Start, the local school district, etc. This meeting will provide important information about those programs and outline how to pursue getting your child enrolled in the program of your choice.
KEIS – Kentucky’s Early Intervention System
KMAP – Kentucky Medical Assistance Program
POE – Point of Entry
ISC – Initial Service Coordinator
PSC – Primary Service Coordinator
RBI – Routines Based Interview
IFSP – Individual Family Service Plan
OT – Occupational Therapy
PT – Physical Therapy
ST – Speech Therapy
EI – Early Intervention
ARC – Admissions & Release Committee
IEP – Individualized Education Plan
CHFS – Cabinet for Health & Family Services
TAT – Technical Assistance Teams
KCHIP – Kentucky’s Children’s Health Insurance Program
Websites related to Early Intervention and Children with Developmental Delays:
First Steps: http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/firstSteps
United Partners in Kentucky: http://up-in-ky.com/index.htm
Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs: http://chfs.ky.gov/ccshcn/
Kentucky Special Parent Involvement (KY-SPIN), Inc.: http://www.kyspin.com/
Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE): http://www.fape.org/index.htm
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities: http://www.nichcy.org/Pages/Home.aspx
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: http://www.ideapractices.org/index.php
**This information was found on the First Steps website. For more information, please visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/firstSteps/