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What It Is

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.

Who Does First Steps Serve?

First Steps serves children from birth to age 3 and their families.  Child eligibility for the program is determined three ways:
  1. Developmental delay - A child may be eligible for services if an evaluation shows the child is not developing typically in at least one of the measured skill areas: communication, cognition, physical, social and emotional or self-help.
  2. Established risk concern - A child may be eligible if he or she is diagnosed with a physical or mental condition likely to result in developmental delay such as Down Syndrome.
  3. Informed clinical opinion - A child may be eligible for services if an approved multidisciplinary evaluation team of professionals determines the child is in need of services based on their clinical expertise. 

​How First Steps services are provided

First Steps providers deliver services that actively involve you in visits usually conducted where your child spends time (home, childcare, playground) and may differ from services provided in a therapy clinic or medical center. 

First Steps providers use a coaching approach to help families and other caregivers support your child's learning and development. 

What is the Cost?

All families enrolled in First Steps are assessed for ability to help with the cost of early intervention services. 

Families are informed of their rights to refuse any service, to have the Family Share cost assessed and to refuse consent for billing private insurance. Additionally, families are informed of the services provided at no cost to them. 

Families participating in Family Share are required to help defray the cost of First Steps services.

Service coordinators calculate the monthly fees using the current published First Steps Family Share sliding scale which ranges from no cost to $400 per month. Fees are based on one child only, regardless of how many siblings are enrolled in First Steps and is not related to the number or frequency of services provided.

Families with both a Family Share participation fee and private health insurance may choose to waive the Family Share participation fee as long as the consent for insurance is active. If the consent to bill insurance is withdrawn, the Family Share participation fee is reinstated.

Why Provide Services?

Kentucky Early Intervention System provides support and services for families with children birth to 3 who have developmental delays or disabilities. 

Research shows that the first three years of a child's life are the most important time for developing and learning. By providing needed services and support during this time, families can better help their children with special needs develop to their full potential and may decrease the need for additional help later in life.

Part C early intervention builds on and provides supports and resources to help family members and caregivers enhance children's learning and development through everyday learning opportunities.

The program follows six standards:

Standard 1: Family-centered ​
Families identify the Individualized Family Service Plan outcomes that determine early intervention services, resources and supports and actively participate during intervention visits.

 Standard 2: Individualized ​
Early intervention services are individualized to meet the identified needs of the child and family.

 Standard 3: Evidence-based 
Early intervention services are evidence-based to enhance the family and child's learning and development in relation to the Individualized Family Service Plan outcomes.

Standard 4: Natural environment
All families receive early intervention services in places where families and children participate in daily life.

Standard 5: Team-based ​
First Steps provides a statewide, team-based early intervention program for families of eligible infants and toddlers.

Standard 6: Transition ​
Children and families have a smooth, seamless transition into, within and out of early intervention.

Concerned about a child's development?

First Steps is available in all Kentucky counties. Services are available to any child and family who meet developmental eligibility criteria, regardless of income. Participation in First Steps is voluntary. Referrals are directed to teams at the district local point of entry (POE) offices.

The POE receives referrals to the First Steps program, determines eligibility through evaluations and assessments and coordinates development of individual family service plans. 

Anyone can refer a child to First Steps services. To make a referral contact your point of entry office​. ​