Research has found that the first three years of a child’s life are crucial in terms of the child’s development. That is why it is vital that if you have any reason to be concerned about your child’s growth and development, physically or mentally, you should get him or her evaluated. If your child does in fact have a medically demonstrable disability, you may well be eligible for educational and other services during the child’s first three years. As the program in Nebraska phrases it, “Babies Can’t Wait.” That should be your motto as well.
This section will provide you with an overview of the Kansas and Missouri programs. However, if you Google “early intervention [your state]”…without the brackets or quotes…you should find links to the programs available where you live.
The Kansas programs are referred to as either (or both) Kansas Infant-Toddler Services or tiny-k networks. The latter is operated by the tiny-K Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.
The Kansas Department of Health Web site is: http://www.ksits.org/
The home page for the tiny-k Foundation is: http://www.tiny-k.org/
The following information is quoted directly from the Kansas Department of Health link above. You should, however, go there yourself to be sure the information hasn’t changed, and to learn more about the services which might be available to help your child.
Contact information as of May 10, 2010:
Kansas Infant-Toddler Services
1000 SW Jackson, Suite 220
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1274
Toll Free (800) 332-6262
Phone: (785) 296-6135
Fax: (785) 296-8626
The mission statement of Kansas Infant-Toddler Services is to:
1. Enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities, to minimize their potential for developmental delay, and to recognize the significant brain development that occurs during a child’s first 3 years of life;
2. Reduce the educational costs to our society, including our Nation’s schools, by minimizing the need for special education and related services after infants and toddlers with disabilities reach school age;
3. Maximize the potential for individuals with disabilities to live independently in society;
4. Enhance the capacity of families to meet the special needs of their infants and toddlers with disabilities; and
5. Enhance the capacity of State and local agencies and service providers to identify, evaluate, and meet the needs of all children, particularly minority, low-income, inner city, and rural children, and infants and toddlers in foster care.
What is Early Intervention?
Family-centered early intervention during the first three years of a child’s life has the potential to make a profound difference in a child’s future. Early intervention is a system of coordinated services that promotes the child’s growth and development and supports families during the critical early years. Early intervention services to eligible children and families are federally mandated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The family is the center of every child’s world. Accordingly, it functions as a child’s most important developmental context. Therefore, the family should be the most important focus in early intervention efforts, including assessment and intervention activities. Collaboration with the family is essential to meet the developmental needs of all young children.
Starting with a partnership between parents and professionals at this early stage helps the child, family and community as a whole. Early intervention services delivered within the context of the family can:
If a child qualifies for early intervention services, he or she may receive a range of services at no cost to the family. Early intervention services are determined through an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that is developed for your child and family. By working closely with the family, early intervention professionals ensure that both services and community supports, including family supports, are brought together to meet each child’s and family’s unique needs. A family service coordinator is available to assist families. Early Intervention services may include, based on needs:
Kansas has 36 local agencies called Infant-Toddler and/or tiny-k networks. Each network provides an array of services to eligible children and their families utilizing a variety of public and private resources. Services are designed to meet the special needs of the child and family and are identified through a multi-disciplinary assessment process and provided through an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
Click here for a copy of the brochure (as of May 10, 2010), that provides contact information for the Infant-Toddler/tiny-k Networks in Kansas.
The information we’ve provided here is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of everything you could possibly need or want to know about Kansas Infants & Toddlers Services/tiny-K networks. We’re just offering you basic information. Going to the Division’s Web site is the best, and indeed the only, way to find out all you need to know about these programs and how they might help your child. Here are the links again:
The Kansas Department of Health Web site is: http://www.ksits.org/
The home page for the tiny-k Foundation is: http://www.tiny-k.org/
Missouri’s early intervention program is called First Steps, which is part of the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, Division of Special Education. The information in this section comes from the Division’s Web site as of May 10, 2010. For complete information about the program and its potentials for you and your child, visit the Division at:
and the First Steps program at:
First Steps is for infants and toddlers, birth to age three, “who have delayed development or diagnosed conditions that are associated with developmental disabilities.” Since families are an integral part of a child’s development, the “First Steps system provides families the tools they need to help their child be successful.”
Note: All of the information below in the First Steps Mission Statement, Belief Statements, and Belief Statements Details are taken directly from the Division’s Web site and are provided here for your convenience.
First Steps is a support and service system designed to improve family capacity to enhance their child’s development and learning and to increase the child’s participation in family and community life.
First Steps Belief Statements
Belief #1 Families are Decision Makers and the Child’s First Teacher
Families are fully-informed and supported in making informed decisions about services, supports, and activities. Families know their needs best and have the greatest influence on their child’s development. Family is forever, providers come and go. They know their child’s likes, dislikes, family activities, and routines. In the context of raising a child with a disability, families know which of their daily activities flow smoothly, those that are more difficult, and can prioritize their needs. The First Steps system should be responsive to those priorities and assist the family in building their capacity to meet their child and family needs.
Belief #2 Effective Services are Designed Around and Promote Family Strengths
All families have strengths. Families must be involved in the identification of supports and services that are meaningful to them. Promoting family strengths builds confidence and competence that will further enhance the child’s development. Each family’s strengths must be valued, accepted, and incorporated into the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) process.
Belief #3 Effective Services are Culturally Competent
Diversity is valued and providers of early intervention services must be responsive to and respectful of the cultural diversity of each family served in the system. Customs and traditions are an important part of family life.
Belief #4 Effective Services are Provided in the Context of the Child’s and Family’s Natural Routines
Children learn and develop best when participating in learning opportunities that occur naturally in everyday routines and activities. Therefore, early intervention strategies and activities should be embedded into these routines. It means coaching and consulting with families and children where they live, learn, and play.
For example, practice in learning new skills such as eating, walking, and talking should happen during naturally occurring activities throughout the day such as mealtimes, playing in the backyard, or during playtime at the childcare center. If needed, modifications to the family and child’s current possessions and toys should be used to teach how these items can be made in other environments and locations that the family typically uses.
Belief #5 Effective Services are Provided in Natural Environments
A child’s development is enhanced when services are provided in natural environments. IFSP teams must first consider if a child’s need can be met in a natural environment. Thus, to the maximum extent appropriate to meet the needs of a child, early intervention services are provided in the home and other community settings in which children without disabilities participate.
Belief #6 Services and Supports are Individualized
IFSP services and supports are individualized, based upon the needs of the child and family, and planned and provided in a timely manner. Concerns and priorities, as identified by the family, must also be considered in developing the IFSP. Early intervention professionals should design their services and supports so that families or primary care providers can carry out the strategies. These supports and services should build each family’s capacity to enhance the development of their child. First Steps is not a “medical model” that only provides direct therapies to the child. Services and supports are focused on the family and other caregivers of the child. Services and supports should fit into a family’s life – not be added on.
Belief #7 Competent Providers Focus on Family Competence
All First Steps providers should focus on promoting family competence and confidence for enhancing their child’s learning and development in family and community life. First Steps providers should be “consultants and coaches” to the families and other primary caregivers, and help them understand how they can meet their child’s needs in the context of the child’s natural routines and activities. Providers can demonstrate strategies for families and provide support based on how often the family believes they need that support. Often, a primary provider, such as a special instructor, can work with the family while other providers consult with the primary provider. Providers should recognize that frequent provider visits may send a message to families that they are not competent or capable to work with their child with special needs. Cancelled appointments may indicate that services are infringing on other family priorities. A coordinated delivery of services through a primary provider demonstrates to families that a specialized therapist is not needed for routine practice of strategies.
Belief #8 Early Identification and Family Engagement are Critical to Early Intervention
Early identification and early family engagement are both critical for optimal development of young children. Early intervention means providing families information and support through on-going dialog as early as possible. Consultation with families and caregivers provides appropriate information EARLY and the opportunity for families to be actively engaged in the early intervention process.
The Division has provided an online brochure that outlines the First Steps program.
Missouri has established standards for determining whether your child is eligible for participation in the First Steps program. Click below to review a copy (which you can save on your own computer).
While it’s important to know ahead of time what the eligibility standards are, all that technical and medical language can be frightening, perhaps even enough to make you think after wading through it that there’s no possible way your child can qualify.
Don’t give up that easily.
You won’t actually know until you go ahead and make the application.
Here is the toll-free number to contact First Steps to find out how to contact the First Steps office in your county: 1-866-583-2392.
Missouri has been divided into ten “Service Point of Entry” regions. A “service point of entry” is clearly the First Steps office where you first make contact with the First Steps program.
The state has also been divided into five First Steps “areas.” Click here for a PDF copy of that map [insert link], which also contains contact information for the area directors.
Just a thought: Remember the story of the boy who cried “Wolf!” If you start at the top—going to your First Steps area director—with initial questions or comments or concerns, you run the risk of being perceived like that little boy, as well as the risk of not getting the help you need when there really is a problem that should be addressed at that level of authority. So before going to the top, give the system a fair chance to work. Use that contact information only when you’ve exhausted all your other options.
Just as parents with children from three to twenty-one have certain rights under IDEA and the Individualized Education Plan Federal regulations, you also have certain rights as a parent under the First Steps program.
Those rights include an evaluation of your child’s eligibility; the creation of an individualized family service plan (similar in concept to an IEP); the right to consent or refuse to consent to some or all of the available services; certain privacy rights; certain rights to prior notice before a First Steps provider takes action; the right to review your child’s records; due process rights if you believe the law or any applicable regulations have been violated with reference to your child, and other rights.
VISIT THE DIVISION’S WEB SITE
The information we’ve provided here is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of everything you could possibly need or want to know about First Steps. We’re just offering you basic information. Going to the Division’s Web site is the best, and indeed the only, way to find out all you need to know about the First Steps program. Here’s the link again: