Baton Rouge -- More children with developmental disabilities are getting help than ever before through EarlySteps, Louisiana’s Early Intervention System administered through the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. As of July 1, 2004, EarlySteps was providing services for 4,317 developmentally delayed infants, toddlers and their families.
EarlySteps not only met federal guidelines that require states to provide early intervention services to children ages birth to three, but exceeded those guidelines. Federal law requires that states provide services for a minimum of 2% of the population of developmentally delayed children and their families each year. EarlySteps achieved an increase in percent of children enrolled from 1.25% on December 1, 2002 to 2.1% on June 1, 2004. The number of providers enrolled and active as of June 30, 2004 was 1,888. These providers are enrolled in 16 types of services.
“The strategy the team developed and implemented over the last year led the system in an unprecedented year of growth,” said Nichole M. Dupree, MPA, EarlySteps system manager. “We increased the number of providers affiliated with our system, which in turn allowed us to serve more Louisiana children.”
In addition, EarlySteps implemented an informational marketing program to educate Louisiana residents on the system. Through television and radio advertising, revised marketing materials and a public awareness campaign, the EarlySteps message was spread statewide.
“It’s encouraging to see the EarlySteps system thrive and become an example for similar systems throughout the country,” said Dr. Frederick P. Cerise, LDH Secretary. “The staff has worked tirelessly to realign EarlySteps not only to meet the stringent federal guidelines, but also to exceed their expectations.”
Staff within the EarlySteps system attribute its success to the pooled efforts of the system administration and staff, the State Interagency Coordinating Counsel (SICC) public relations committee, EarlySteps providers and the families served.
“I encourage any parents who are concerned with their children’s development to contact EarlySteps at 1-866-earlysteps,” Dupree said. “We are here to help every child meet his or her maximum potential.”
EarlySteps is Louisiana’s Early Intervention System for children with disabilities and developmental delays ages birth to three and their families. By providing resources and support during those critical years. EarlySteps helps children get off to a great start. Services are provided in the child’s natural environments, which can include the home, daycare, or community center, at no cost and with no income requirements.