To get babies off to a healthy start early intervention is the best. First Steps, the Indiana Children's Special Health Care Services offers services that provide a healthy start to children and families in Clay, Vermillion and Vigo counties.
First Steps is defined as a family-centered, locally based, coordinated system that provides early intervention services to infants and young children with disabilities or who are developmentally vulnerable. The goal of First Steps is to help Hoosier families make sure toddlers receive their services now to help them in the future. The program brings together education and health professionals with social service agencies by coordinating locally available services to give children a wide variety of early intervention tools. First Steps services are provided for children ages birth to 3 years who are showing developmental delays, have been diagnosed with a condition that will most likely result in a developmental delay or are at risk of suffering substantial developmental delay if early intervention is not provided.
The program is for families at any income level. It is there to help relieve the pressures of parenting a child with a delay and providing the child with the special services they need regardless of the family's background.
First Steps Coordinator for Clay, Vermillion and Vigo Counties Dawn Carlson said, "Early intervention is one of the best things you can do for your child."
Families can get their children into the First Step Programs in two different ways. While most families are referred to the program by doctors , hospital staff, or other social service agency caseworkers. Families can also recommend themselves because they are concerned about their child.
Chairman of Step Ahead Outreach for Clay County Nick French decided to join the board because of the network of community people involved in the program, the majority of which have contact with the families and children in the program. Clay County is the only county where five providers put on family fun nights to keep families with delayed children out of isolation and let them no they are not alone. These nights also helps the program advertise to the public who they are and what they are about.
French agrees with Carlson, "If you can start a child that is delayed and give them a boost before they get to school it is going to benefit the child and the state in the long run is more than you could ever count because they will need little to no special services again," French said.
For more information about the program contact Carlson at 812-231-8342 or toll free at 1-877-860-0413.
To refer a child contact the Terre Haute office at 231-8337 or call the toll free number.