How do I contact First Steps? Are there services in my city/town?
First Steps has nine System Points of Entry:
Northwest Indiana First Steps Contact Info
Northwest Indiana First Steps
System Point of Entry (SPOE)
11045 Broadway Suite F.
Crown Point, IN 46307
Toll Free: 1-800-387-7837
Servicing the following counties: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper,Newton, Pulaski and Starke.
North East Indiana First Steps Contact Info
North East Indiana First Steps
System Point of Entry (SPOE)
700 E Beardsley Ave Ste 14A
Elkhart, IN 46514
Toll Free: 1-866-725-2398
Servicing the following counties: St. Joseph, Elkhart, LaGrange, Steuben, Noble, DeKalb, Whitley, Marshall, Fulton and Kosciusko
North Central Indiana First Steps
System Point of Entry (SPOE)
201 East Rudisill Blvd. Suite 301
Fort Wayne, IN 46806
Phone: (260) 444-2994
Fax: (260) 444-4314
Servicing the following counties: Allen, Adams, Wells, Huntington, Grant, Wabash and Miami.
Mid-North Indiana First Steps Contact Info
Mid-North Indiana First Steps
System Point of Entry (SPOE)
620 Morland Drive
Lafayette, IN 47905
Toll Free: 1-877 811-1644
Servicing the following counties: Benton, White, Carroll, Clinton, Boone, Montgomery, Fountain, Tippecanoe, Warren, Howard and Cass.
First Steps services are in every city/town in Indiana. However, 9 different regional offices (known as “Clusters”) serve the different counties. If you do not live near one of above, then please click here to find your local office.
What is First Steps?
First Steps is the State of Indiana’s early intervention system. Our program serves families with infants and toddlers (ages birth to three) who are experiencing developmental delays or have a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay. First Steps is funded by state and federal funds. Every family in Indiana, regardless of income or location, can access the First Steps program.
First Steps services can begin at birth if needed, or at any time before your child’s third birthday. Services can last until your child no longer needs help or until s/he turns three years old.
Any child, age birth to three, in the state of Indiana is entitled to a developmental evaluation at no cost. However, children must meet eligibility criteria and show a need for services to receive ongoing services.
What does it mean for a child to have a developmental delay or a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay?
A child’s growth and development are more than just physical. Development is the process of learning and mastering new skills over time, which include the ability to move, communicate, think, see, hear, play with toys, interact with people and learn to behave (these are commonly referred to as developmental milestones.). The First Steps program assesses children in the five areas of development:
- COGNITIVE SKILLS: such as paying attention, knowing how to play with toys, playing turn-taking games, problem solving activities
- PHYSICAL SKILLS: such as sitting, walking, balancing, picking up small objects, coloring with crayons, vision and hearing
- COMMUNICATION SKILLS: such as pointing, talking, understanding directions,
- SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: such as making eye contact, getting along with others, expressing feelings, being able to be in group settings
- ADAPTIVE and SELF-HELP SKLLS: such as feeding, sleeping; getting dressed independently
A developmental delay means that your child may be behind in meeting one or more of the milestones in the above areas of development.A diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay means that your child has a diagnosis that has been identified by a professional that limits or slows down your child’s development and/or your child is experiencing one of the following:
- Chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorder
- Sensory impairments, including vision or hearing
- Low birth weight (less than 1500 grams)
- Neurological disorder
- Congenital malformation
- Severe toxic exposure, including prenatal exposure
- Neurological abnormality in the newborn period.
Do I really need to seek help? Won’t my child just grow out of a developmental delay?
There is no question the children develop very differently and at different rates. However, if your child is not developing properly, then there are many things that you can do to help.
Although in some cases, a “wait and see” approach is fine, most of the time, a developmental problem is not something your child will just “grow out of” on his or her own (and can lead to much frustration on both the child and families’ parts if not addressed early.)
As parents, we feel like we should know exactly how to teach our children to do certain skills and when our children don’t naturally meet milestones, we feel guilty and as if we haven’t done our job properly. However, parents are not trained professionals and cannot be expected to know how to respond to a developmental problem.
The best way to help your child is to seek help early so that the problem can be addressed and so that your child can move on in their development. Sometimes a child needs only a brief time of services to overcome a minor developmental problem.
What should I do if I suspect my child is behind in their development?
If you are feeling unsure about how your child is doing, then please trust your instincts and contact First Steps for a developmental evaluation. This evaluation will help identify if your child needs help or put your mind at ease that your child is progressing just fine.
We also encourage you to discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor, but you do not need a doctor’s referral to contact First Steps. You, as a family member or as a professional can refer a child directly to First Steps if you are having concerns about a child’s development. Anyone at anytime can call us and we will contact the family to see if they are interested in First Steps services.
What does the First Steps program offer?
The First Steps program offers:
- a Evaluation on your child that looks at all the areas of his or her development. This evaluation gives you valuable information on how your child is doing with their skills, and identifies any areas that your child might need some help with.
- services that typically take place in your child’s natural environment. Usually, this is your home, but it can also be places where you and your child spend time (e.g. your child’s daycare, grandparents home, local park, etc.) Our providers also try and provide some flexibility in scheduling their appointments to meet your family’s needs.
- a Service Coordinator who helps bring together the different people, information and resources that will support your child and family. Your Coordinator can also help identify resources in your community that will assist your family with a wide variety of social or financial issues.
- a variety of direct services and therapy that helps your child meet the outcomes that enable your child to participate in the regular routines and activities that are important to your family.
- supports that respect your family’s culture, values and priorities.
- a program that is completely voluntary and you can stop services at any time
What direct services and therapy does First Steps provide?
- Audiology (i.e. hearing tests and services)
- Developmental Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech and Language Pathology
- Nursing Services
- Nutrition Services
- Psychological Services
- Social Work Services
- Vision Services
What does it mean to be eligible and in need of services for First Steps?
To be eligible for services through the First Steps program, your child must have a 25% delay in one of the five developmental areas listed above (Cognitive, Physical, Communication, Social or Adaptive) or a 20% delay in two of those five areas. This % delay is determined by the evaluation that First Steps completes on your child.Children with certain medical diagnosis are also eligible for our program. This diagnosis must be made by the child’s physician.
Even if your child is showing a developmental delay or has a certain medical diagnosis, to receive First Steps services, they must also show a need for services. This will be determined after the evaluation is completed and other information is collected.
How is it determined that my child is eligible and need of services?
What do I need to make a referral to First Steps?
All you need to do is call or email First Steps to make a referral. Any parent, friend or professional can be the one who makes the first contact. You will need to provide basic information such as:
- child’s name and date of birth
- family’s name, address and phone number
- the name of the child’s doctor
- a brief explanation of the reason you are referring the child
The referral will then be assigned to a Coordinator who will set up an initial appointment with the family.