Early Steps Program
Are you concerned about the development of your infant or child?
“Shouldn’t Jimmy be walking by now?”
“Why isn’t Susie saying ‘mama’ yet?”
“How do I know if my baby is developing properly?”
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 of the same age. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you can call to discuss the need for a developmental evaluation.
The Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is the site of the Western Panhandle Early Steps Program, which provides early-intervention services for children with potential developmental delays from birth to three years of age living in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.
About Early Steps
Early Steps connects families and caregivers with services to enhance their child’s development so children are ready to succeed by the time 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
Children We Serve
Each year the Early Steps Program at Sacred Heart provides early-intervention services to more than 800 infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or a condition that places them at risk for developmental delays.
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 trouble seeing or hearing or are slow to learn and understand.
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.
At Early Steps, your child’s development will be assessed in the following areas:
- Physical: Health, hearing, vision
- Cognitive: Thinking, learning, problem solving
- Gross and 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 such as feeding, toileting and dressing
These assessments help identify activities and services that will promote your child's development.
Each child in Early Steps will have a service coordinator and a family resource specialist. Additional team 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 throug a process called the Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP).
For more information or to refer a child to the Early Steps Program at Sacred Heart, 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.