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:
If you have questions about the Individualized Family Support Planning process, please contact your Service Coordinator or Family Resource Specialist
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 our continual improvement process, we conduct a Early Steps Family survey each year and provide the Family Survey Results on our web site. If you have additional questions about this survey please contact Florida's Central Directory at 1(800) 654-4440.
Conversation With Families
The Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers (FICCIT) provides input to Florida's Early Steps State Office on ways services and supports to infants, toddlers, and their families, can be improved in Florida.
Family involvement and outreach is also an important element of the Council. As such, the Family Leadership Committee of FICCIT hosts quarterly meetings with families in the host city of each FICCIT Council Meeting. This meeting, "Conversation with Families", is an opportunity for families to share their experience, wisdom, and vision about Florida's Early Steps system.
To find out when a "Conversation with Families" will be coming to your area, please call Florida's Central Directory at 1(800) 654-4440.
FICCIT is authorized and required by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA)