Part of what we do at the Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center is teaching families to meet the developmental needs of their children. The first three years of a child’s life are a period of rapid growth and development. By addressing developmental delays during these early years, infants and toddlers are better prepared to reach their full potential and to be successful at home and school.
What is Early Steps?
Early Steps is Florida’s system of early intervention services for families whose young children are not reaching age-appropriate developmental milestones. When a child is evaluated as eligible for services, Early Steps’ providers will teach his/her parents and other caregivers ways to improve development by supporting the child’s participation in daily routines, such as during meals, bath and bedtime, play and family outings. Families are the life-long teachers for their children: their active involvement in all early intervention sessions will prepare them for this important parenting role. Services may be provided in the home, child care or other community settings.
For children birth to 36 months old with developmental delays or handicapping conditions in Broward County, CDTC’s Early Steps is the lead agency for the provision of early intervention services for infants and toddlers. Early intervention is critical during this period in a child’s growth because the rate of human learning and development is most rapid in the preschool years. Early Steps’ goal is to strengthen both the skills of the child through therapy services and to support families with education about developmental milestones and with strategies they can use during their daily routines to promote their child’s developmental progress.
Once a child is determined to be eligible for the program, an Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) is developed and outcomes on the plan are continually monitored for successful skill acquisition. New outcomes are added as needed, by the IFSP team which includes the Early Steps Service Coordinator, the family and the therapists/developmental specialists providing services to the child. Services are provided to the family and child where they live, learn and play, to enable caregivers to implement developmentally appropriate learning opportunities during everyday activities and routines. Services are customized to families’ needs and may include: special instruction, speech-language, audiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, service coordination and assistive technology devices. Early Steps also works with families to transition their children to Broward County Schools or other community resources when their child turns three.
How does the referral and enrollment process work?
1. Parents with concerns about their child’s development may request an evaluation. Physicians, neo-natal units, child care staff, social workers and other professionals may also refer a child. In Broward County, referrals are received through Child Find, the Broward County Schools central intake system for children with special needs.
2. An Early Steps service coordinator will contact each family to discuss their concerns and the functional goals they want to see their child achieve.
3. If a child qualifies for early intervention services, based upon Florida’s eligibility guidelines, an Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) will be developed to address the child’s needs and the family’s concerns and goals.
4. Each family’s service coordinator will assist them through-out their Early Steps ‘Journey” and will help them to identify a primary service provider. The primary service provider will educate and coach caregivers to use simple strategies to work with their child during their everyday activities.
Are there any fees for Early Steps services?
Early Steps is federally funded through the Individuals with Disabilities Act (Part C) and administered by the state’s Children’s Medical Services office. Children are referred to the program by their physician, other community agencies or by self-referral through Child Find, a Broward Schools referral service for children with disabilities or special needs. An initial evaluation is conducted by a multi-disciplinary team at CDTC to assess each child’s skills for their age in the following areas: physical, cognitive, gross and fine motor skills, communication, social/emotional and adaptive development.
If you wish to make a referral to Broward Early Steps contact Child Find at 754- 321-7200 or Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center at 954-728-1083
Ana Calderon Randazzo, Ph.D., Executive Director, Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center
Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center (CDTC) childrensdiagnostic.com/ is a not-for-profit organization serving more than 11,000 children with special health care needs in Broward County. As a facility of Broward Health,CDTC’s mission is to promote the optimal health and well-being of children with special health care needs by providing comprehensive prevention, intervention and treatment services within a medical home environment. CDTC is a nationally recognized “Center of Excellence,” offering a unique system of care for infants, children and youth.