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First Steps

What to Know About First Steps

First Steps is a state program that provides services from birth to three years old. Eligibility for this program is determined three ways:

  • Developmental Delay – A child may be eligible for services if an evaluation shows the child is not developing typically in at least one of the measured skill areas: communication, cognition, physical, social and emotional or self-help.

  • Established Risk Concern – A child may be eligible if he or she is diagnosed with a physical or mental condition likely to result in developmental delay such as Down Syndrome.

  • Informed Clinical Opinion - A child may be eligible for services if an approved multidisciplinary evaluation team of professionals determines the child is in need of services based on their clinical expertise.


A parent referral can be made through a Kentucky Point of Entry.

First Steps Family Rights

The process will begin with an evaluation/assessment to determine the eligibility of your child. If the child is eligible, a meeting will be scheduled to develop an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) within 45 days of referral to First Steps.

Click here to read more.


Services Available through First Steps

  • An audiologist

  • A marriage and family therapist

  • A developmental interventionist

  • A nurse

  • A dietician

  • An occupational therapist

  • An occupational therapy assistant

  • An orientation and mobility specialist

  • A physical therapist

  • A physical therapist’s assistant

  • A licensed psychologist; certified psychologist with autonomous functioning; licensed psychological practitioner; certified psychologist; licensed psychological associate

  • A speech-language pathologist

  • A licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC)

  • A teacher of the visually impaired

  • A teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing

  • A physician

  • An optometrist

  • An ophthalmologist

  • A sign language and cued language specialist  

  • A licensed social worker


Transition out of First Steps (IDEA Part C) to public School services (IDEA Part B):

  • A First Steps Transition Conference is scheduled and takes place after the child is two years three months old and before two years nine months (no later than 90 days before the child’s third birthday).

  • Team members, parents and school district are invited to attend. This meeting plans the transition out of First Steps and reviews options available to the child from the third birthday to the remainder of the school year.

  • The local school district schedules the first ARC (Admissions and Release Committee) to discuss the referral. Parent provides consent for evaluation.

  • School district has 60 school days to evaluate the child in the areas listed on the consent form. A second ARC meeting is scheduled within 30 days of establishing eligibility to create an IEP.

  • An Exit IFSP meeting may also be scheduled to assist with transition out of First Steps.
    Click here to learn more. Learn more about IDEA here.


Tip #1: Declining services at the child’s third birthday and transition out of First Steps does NOT affect the child’s ability to receive future special education services though the local public school district.

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