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.
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.
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.