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Early Steps Operations Guide

This document does not include guidance/procedures for each policy in the Early Steps Policy Handbook.  Guidance is included only as necessary to explain how to implement a policy, outline steps, or recommend actions to support implementation.

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Component:   2.0       Public Awareness

Related Policy Component



Reference/Related Documents

2.1.0 Child Find and Public Awareness


A.      Public awareness materials and activities include, but are not limited to: brochures; posters displayed in doctor’s offices, hospitals and other appropriate locations; radio, newspaper or other local publication releases; display boards; and speaking engagements.

B.     Local Early Steps (LES) will be notified when there will be a statewide distribution of public awareness materials by the Early Steps State Office (ESSO) and their input will be requested on the amount of materials needed.  Specific requests for public awareness materials can also be e-mailed throughout the year to ESSO’s public awareness coordinator. 



A.      Child find activities include:

1.      Community outreach/education.  Example - informing early childhood and child care programs and referral sources about eligibility, how to identify children who might be eligible, and how to make appropriate referrals to Early Steps.

2.      Screening opportunities (such as in local health fairs).

3.      Public awareness activities to identify potentially eligible children.



Public awareness materials may include materials developed specifically by a LES

A.      Local public awareness materials should be submitted to the ESSO public awareness coordinator to be reviewed and approved.

B.     Requests for review of public awareness materials will be processed within 15 working days of receipt.

C.     Early Steps materials should reflect diverse and culturally appropriate images of children and families.

D.     Display of the Early Steps website address is also encouraged when appropriate.



Use of the Local Early Steps Office Request for Approval of Public Awareness Materials form is optional.

Request for Approval of Public Awareness Materials Form


Sample sponsorship statement: Sponsored by (provider's name) and the State of Florida, Department of Health.


2.2.0 Central Directory


A.      The ESSO contracts with an independent, non-profit agency, The Children’s Forum, to provide the Central Directory services for Florida via a statewide toll-free number and a website that is available to the general public.

B.     The Central Directory number is answered by trained personnel Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on official State holidays.

C.     Central Directory staff has access to a language translator line service for those calls that require interpreter services.



Central Directory number




Family Resource Specialists are responsible for researching information on local community resources and providing this information to the Central Directory.  The collected information is then put into the REFER database located on the Central Directory website under the Resources tab.

Operations Guide 9.2.2

2.3.0 Referral to Early Steps


Individuals who have concerns about an infant or toddler having a developmental delay should immediately refer a child to Early Steps rather than waiting for confirmation of the developmental delay.  This allows the family to be aware of IDEA, Part C and Early Steps so that they can take advantage of the services and supports offered.



A.   Referrals for those children who have been involved in a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect; or identified as being affected by withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure may be submitted on the DCF CAPTA Referral for Early Steps form.

B.   Children under age 3 who meet the criteria set forth in 2.3.3A above may first be screened by the designated primary referral source to determine if referral is warranted.

DCF Form number CF FSP 5322


Each LES must have a process to record referral information.  The following should be included on all referral forms as part of the information collection process. However, even if some of the information is missing it is still considered a referral as long as the LES has adequate information to contact the parents/guardian.

A.      Contact information for parents/guardian.

B.     Age of child, if known.

C.     Date of referral.

D.     Source of referral.

E.     Reason for referral.



For children referred to Early Steps between 33 months of age and 45 calendar days prior to the child’s third birthday, the service coordinator should:

A.      Explain to the family their options, including:

1.      Receiving services with Early Steps until the age of three and then transitioning to the local school district, OR

2.      Declining services with Early Steps and with parental consent being referred directly to the local school district. 

B.      Ensure the family understands the ramifications of declining enrollment in Early Steps.




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