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?
Kentucky Early Intervention System provides supports and services for families with children birth to three 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 supports during this time, families will be able to help their children with special needs develop to their full potential, and may decrease the need for additional help later in life.
Mission: Part C early intervention builds upon and provides supports and resources to assist family members and caregivers to enhance children's learning and development through everyday learning opportunities. (The mission statement was developed by a workgroup on Principles and Practices in Natural Environments, OSEP TA Community of Practice: Part C Settings, 2008, March. Agreed upon mission and key principles for providing early intervention services in natural environments.)
The program standards lay the foundation for the early intervention system. They are a way to talk about how services are provided and delivered to the families we support. The six program standards are:
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
How First Steps services are provided
First Steps knows you are the expert on your child and have the most impact on your child's development. This means First Steps Providers will deliver services that actively involve you in their visits. First Steps services are offered where your child spends their time (home, childcare, playground) and may be different from those 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.
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. 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.
The point of entry office (POE) is responsible for receiving all referrals to the First Steps program, determining eligibility through evaluations and assessments and coordinating the development of the individualized family service plan. POEs are also responsible for local Child Find activities, local public awareness activities, and administrative monitoring and analysis of POE and district performance.
What is the Cost?
All families enrolled in First Steps are assessed for ability to pay. Ability to pay is the determination of a family’s financial ability to help with the cost of early intervention services.
During the process of determining ability to pay, families are informed of their right to refuse any service, their right to have the Family Share cost assessed and their right to refuse consent for billing private insurance. Additionally, families are informed of the services provided at no cost to them.
Family Share is one component of the First Steps system of payments. Family Share requires families who are determined to have an ability to pay a participation fee to help defray the cost of their early intervention services. Based on family size, family income and a sliding fee scale, First Steps costs are calculated and compared to the annual federal poverty guideline. The fee assessed is not related to the number or frequency of services received by the child. During the child’s enrollment in First Steps, the family is obligated to pay the Family Share participation fee. This monthly participation fee begins the same month early intervention services start and continues until the month of the last session.
Monthly invoices for Family Share participation fees are generated based upon the early intervention services billing data.
Using the total number of identified members of the family and the verified earned income of the identified family members, the service coordinator calculates the applicable monthly payment fee using the current published First Steps Family Share sliding fee scale. The scale 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.
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 parent withdraws consent to bill insurance, the Family Share participation fee will be reinstated.