What is Early Steps?
Getting the right services at the right time can really make a difference for children with special needs. The Early Steps program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital (called Early Steps Southernmost Coast) assures that early intervention services and supporting resources are available for young children with special needs from birth to age three. If your child has a developmental delay (i.e. is slow to begin crawling, walking or talking), vision, hearing, feeding, or other established condition that place him/her at risk for developmental delay, and you live in the southern half of Miami Dade County through the Florida Keys of Monroe County, your family may be eligible for services through Early Steps Southernmost Coast. If you live outside of the area, we can assist in finding the right Early Steps location for you.
The Early Steps system is part of the State of Florida Children's Medical Services and is funded by what is called "Part C" of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA is a federal program that helps organizations such as Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, and the State of Florida provide family-centered, early intervention services (What is IDEA, Part C?). For specific information on the Early Steps system in Florida, see the Early Steps statewide website. Early Steps Southernmost Coast at Nicklaus Children's is one of 15 programs in the state. To see why Early Steps is so important, click here.
Your child will receive a multidisciplinary evaluation and assessment by a team of specialists, including a Service Coordinator and two or more of the following clinicians to determine his or her eligibility: physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech/language therapist, psychologist, or developmental specialist. Children who are found eligible in accordance with the Early Steps guidelines are enrolled with subcontracted community agencies to provide the services recommended by the Individualized Family Support Plan team, which always includes the parents.
Early Steps services are based on Early Steps evaluations and your family's concerns, resources, and goals. Early Steps uses a Team Based Primary Service Provider approach which aims to empower each eligible family by providing a comprehensive team of professionals from the beginning of services through transition. The goal is for the family to receive strong support from one person, provide a comprehensive team of professionals from beginning to end, and for the family to have fewer appointments and more time to be a “family.” Services are provided to the family and child where they live, learn and play ("Natural Environment"), to enable the family to implement developmentally appropriate learning opportunities during everyday activities and routines.
Click here to see the Early Steps Growth and Developmental Chart.
Click here to see the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development.
Click here to download the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Early Steps referral form. (.doc)
Click here to download the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Early Steps referral form. (.pdf)
A child's future can be brighter when necessary care and treatment is provided early in life. To get more information on Early Steps Southernmost Coast at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, please call (786) 268-2611 (in Miami-Dade County) or 888 MCH-STEPS (888-624-7837 in Monroe County). For families residing in southern Miami-Dade County, our office is located in the Nicklaus Children's Palmetto Bay Outpatient Center outpatient facility at 17615 SW 97 Avenue, Palmetto Bay, Florida 33157. For families residing in the Keys, please call the 888 MCH-STEPS number for locations closest to your home.
Would you like to become a provider for Early Steps?
We invite you to become a provider of early intervention services in our community to make a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers with special needs. Early intervention specialists needed include Infant Toddler Developmental Specialists (non-licensed EI providers), Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, and other specialists to serve young children birth to thirty-six months. All professionals must be eligible to enroll in the statewide Early Steps Provider Enrollment system. You can find out more by going to the Early Steps State website or by calling our Community Liaison at 786-268-2611 x1814.
To schedule an appointment or for more information call: Toll free 1-888-624-STEPs (888-624-7837). Services provided Week days from 8:30 am to 5 pm