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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Family Involvement in Early Steps

As parents and caregivers, you are your child's first teachers. You are the first to know your child's needs and strengths and are best at providing daily support during everyday routines.

During the first meeting with your family, an Early Steps team member(s) begins to identify everyday routines, activities, and places with your input. These may be activities like visiting grandparents, walking to the store, getting the mail, feeding the dog, and doing the laundry. Since families change, identifying you and your child's routines is part of an ongoing assessment process that changes when you change.

Early Steps believes in partnership with families and provides families and caregivers with training and support to increase learning opportunities for children. Family members can use routines to encourage their child's development of skills and independence.

Talk to your local Early Steps team about how you can be more involved in your child's development.

The Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP) Process

The Individualized Family Support Plan sometimes referred to as the IFSP, identifies the specific concerns, priorities, and resources your family has about your child's development. This plan begins with building partnerships with the professionals who will provide services and supports based on your family's needs.

Drafting the plan is a family-centered process that involves your family and professionals as equal members. As the parent, you are the most knowledgeable source of information when it comes to your child's needs and this is why your role in the Individualized Family Support Plan process is very important. The plan ultimately helps coordinate resources, supports and services to meet you and your child's needs.

Some of the topics that are discussed and used to develop an Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) are:

  • How your child is growing and learning
  • Immediate needs your child and family has related to your child's development
  • Your family's concerns, priorities, and resources
  • Your routines, schedules and environments those are natural to your family's lifestyle.
  • Goals and outcomes that your family has for your child and the services that will help your family and your child reach these goals/outcomes
  • Activities that will help your child transition to future services on his or her third birthday.

If you have questions about the Individualized Family Support Planning process, please contact your Service Coordinator or Family Resource Specialist

Your Rights

Early Steps recognizes your right to make decisions about your child and takes your concerns seriously. If you and the Early Steps team do not agree on plans or services, or if you think your rights have been violated, there are procedures for resolving your concerns.

There are many informal ways of sharing your concerns with your team and Early Steps. This includes talking with your service coordinator, Family Resource Specialist, and Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) team.

Families have specific rights throughout their involvement in Early Steps. These are called Procedural Safeguards. The Summary of Procedural Safeguards lists the rights available to you in Early Steps and helps to make sure that you are an equal member of your child's team.

If you have concerns or feel your rights have been violated, you have the right to Request Mediation, File a Complaint, or request a Due Process Hearing. A Comparison of Mediation, Complaints and Due Process Hearings is available to you should you need such assistance.

Early Steps Family Survey

As part of a continuous improvement process, Early Steps conducts a family survey annually.  Families report on family outcomes resulting from participation in early intervention and the extent to which early intervention helped.  The results of the survey can be found in Florida’s Annual Performance Report to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and here on the Early Steps website.  If you have additional questions about this survey process contact Florida’s Central Directory at 1 (800) 218-0001.

Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers (FICCIT)

The Florida Department of Health, Children's Medical Services, Early Steps Program maintains a statewide interagency coordinating council called the Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers (FICCIT). The role of FICCIT is to advise and assist Florida's Early Steps Program in the performance of its responsibilities

FICCIT is composed of governor appointed members who are representative of the state's population.  There are two positions that require parent representation.  For more information and to apply for a seat on the Council, please visit the Governor's Appointment's webpage at http://www.flgov.com/appointments/.

 For more information about FICCIT please visit the website: http://www.floridaicc.com/

 FICCIT is authorized and required by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA)