The First Steps early intervention program supports families of infants and toddlers under three years of age who have a developmental delay, or who have a diagnosed condition that's likely to cause delays in development.
We help you help your child. Our Service Coordinator and a team of Early Interventionists work directly with families, guiding them to help their child learn at home, in their community, and in care and education programs.
We connect you with support you need. The program provides family-centered services and helps families obtain information, emotional support, and material supports in their community to meet the unique needs of their child and the family.
Early intervention is authorized under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) .
Older children? If you have a child 3 to 17 years old with a disability or special health needs, our Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs program may be able to help. Learn more
Goals for You and Your Child
The first three years of a child's life are very important for their later health, education and well-being. Some children need support and special services to improve their ability to develop and learn. When they receive this support early in life, it can prevent or decrease the need for special services later.
Our program strives to enhance children's development, which also means improving the ability of families to meet their children's needs. The result is less need for expensive special education or institutionalization later in life, and children who are better able to live independently.
Goals for families and caregivers:
- Know their rights
- Can effectively communicate their children's needs
- Help their children develop and learn
Goals for infants and toddlers:
- Develop social relationships and positive social and emotional skills.
- Use appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.
- Develop early language and communication skills
- Develop and use other knowledge and skills
Early intervention is most successful when professionals partner with families to identify concerns and to plan solutions together. Since each family and child is unique, early interventionists focus on the whole family to improve outcomes for the whole child.
Healthcare providers are typically the first to notice that a child has a disability or delay in development, and is in need of early intervention services. Healthcare providers are vital partners in making referrals to early intervention and for supporting the enrollment and service delivery during early intervention.
Early interventionists represent a variety of health, education and developmental professions. In the early intervention model, specialists use their professional knowledge to support families by providing critical information about development, encouraging them to help their child throughout the day, and using their expertise to identify meaningful and culturally responsive practices to promote children's engagement, independence and social relationships.
The First Steps Early Intervention Program works to make improvements in its infrastructure and practices to improve outcomes for all families and children enrolled. Since 2014, the First Steps program has been planning and implementing a State Systemic Improvement Plan to improve its standards of quality, professional development system, data system, and implementation of evidence-based practices, including the Routines-Based Early Intervention Model.
The First Steps Early Intervention Program reports annually to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs.
State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC)
The Mississippi State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) is appointed by the Governor to advise and assist the Mississippi State Department of Health in implementing the requirements of Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Mississippi SICC meets quarterly. All Mississippi SICC meetings and records are open to the public.