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First Steps Program

What is First Steps?

First Steps is a statewide early intervention system that provides services to children with developmental disabilities from birth to age 3 and their families. First Steps is Kentucky's response to the federal Infant-Toddler Program. First Steps offers comprehensive services through a variety of community agencies and service disciplines and is administered by the Department for Public Health in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Why Provide Services?

Typically, children who participate in early intervention experience significant improvement in development and learning. Children with developmental delays or conditions likely to cause delays benefit greatly from First Step services during critical developmental years.

Services and support also benefit families by reducing stress.

Early intervention services can decrease the need for costly special education programs later in life by providing appropriate services that address problems early in the child's development.

Who Does First Steps Serve?

First Steps serves children from birth to age 3 and their families. Child eligibility for the program is determined two ways:

  1. By developmental delay - A child may be eligible for services if an evaluation shows that a child is not developing typically in at least one of the following skill areas: communication, cognition, physical, social and emotional or self-help.
  2. Established Risk Concern - A child may be eligible if he or she receives a diagnosis of physical or mental condition with high probability of resulting developmental delay such as Down Syndrome.

Where are First Steps services provided?

Services may be provided in the home, at child care centers or child care home. Services also may be provided in community settings such as libraries, grocery stores or parks.

Concerned about a child's development?

Anyone can refer a child for First Steps services by calling (877) 417-8377 or (877) 41STEPS.

First Steps is available in all Kentucky counties. Services are available to any child and family who meet developmental eligibility criteria, regardless of income. A family's participation in First Steps services is always voluntary. Referrals are directed to teams at the district Local Point of Entry offices that help children and families access needed services.

For more information contact your local Point of Entry Office.

Opportunity for Public Comment on the FFY18 Part C Federal Funds Application

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services announces that the Part C annual application for federal funds authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) is available for review and public comment beginning February 27, 2018 through April 27, 2018. These funds support the First Steps program. This annual application to the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP) is available to review on the First Steps website at .

The application packet, developed by OSEP, includes a summary of the certifications, policies, procedures, methods, descriptions, assurances, and use of IDEA funds that the state uses to implement Part C of IDEA. Upon receipt and approval of this application, Kentucky will receive a federal grant award under IDEA Part C for the period of July 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019. 

The application is in a format required by OSEP. The costs included in this application only reflect those costs attributable to the federal IDEA Part C funds and not the total cost of the First Steps program. The amounts listed in Section III, Description of Use of Part C Funds reflect the current year allocation since OSEP has yet to announce the anticipated award amounts for FFY18. 

The Department for Public Health accepts written comments related to the application through close of business, April 27, 2018. Written comments may be sent to: Paula Goff, Part C Coordinator, CHFS, DPH, 275 E. Main St., HS2WC, Frankfort, KY 40621 or to email address


Last Updated 4/3/2018