Do you wonder about your infant’s or child’s development?
"Shouldn’t Jimmy be walking by now?”
“Why isn’t Susie saying ‘mama’ yet?”
“How do I know if my baby is developing okay?”
Parents often ask their child’s pediatrician if certain behaviors are “normal” and if they should be concerned when their child does not appear to be progressing as quickly as other children their age. If you have concerns about your child’s development you can call to discuss the need for a developmental evaluation.
The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is the site of the Western Panhandle Early Steps Program which provides early intervention services for children from birth to three years of age who may have developmental delays living in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.
About Early Steps
We connect families and caregivers with services to enhance their child’s development so children are ready to succeed when they enter school. These services are provided at no cost to families.
Early Steps helps infants and toddlers with special needs to:
- Make the most of every day natural learning opportunities
- Be involved in as many of their family’s activities as possible
- Be supported while participating in community activities
Who We Serve
Each year the Early Steps Program at The Children's Hospital provides early intervention services to more than 800 infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or have a condition that places them at risk for developmental delay.
Some children may have developmental difficulties because:
- They were born premature or spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for other reasons.
- They can’t walk without help by fifteen months.
- They can’t use words by age two.
- They have difficulties seeing or hearing, or are slow to learn and understand.
Evaluation & Assessment
Each child grows at an individual pace but research shows that a child’s first three years are the most important time for development. Beginning services before age three provides the best opportunity for your child to reach his/her full potential. Participating in Early Steps has many benefits for your family including an evaluation and assessment of your child’s strengths and needs.
Your child’s development will be assessed in the following areas:
- Physical: Health, hearing, vision
- Cognitive: Thinking, learning, problem solving
- Gross & Fine Motor Skills: Moving, walking, using hands
- Communication: Babbling, gestures, speech, conversation
- Social/Emotional: Expressing feelings, playing and interacting with others
- Adaptive Development: Self help skills like feeding, toileting, dressing
These assessments help identify activities and services that will promote your child’s development.
Early Intervention Teams
Each child in Early Steps will have a Service Coordinator and a Family Resource Specialist. Additional members can include a Development Specialist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and/or Speech Language Pathologist. The team is individualized based on the needs of the child. The team develops a plan with family input. This is called the IFSP—Individualized Family Support Plan.
For more information or to refer a child to the Early Steps Program, please call 850-416-7656 or 1-800-281-1845.
5150 Bayou Blvd., Suite 1N
Pensacola, FL 32503
Open Monday - Friday
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Resources for Parents