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, please 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. Our service area is Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.
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 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).
- They can’t walk without help by 15 months.
- They can’t use words by age two.
- They have trouble seeing or hearing or are slow to learn and understand.
About Early Steps
The goal of Early Steps is to connect families and caregivers with services to enhance their child’s development so that children will be 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 everyday natural learning opportunities
- Be involved in as many of their family’s activities as possible
- Be supported while participating in community activities
Evaluation & Assessment
While each child grows at an individual pace, research shows that a child’s first three years are the most important time for development. Beginning intervention services before age three provides your child with the best opportunity to reach his/her full potential. By participating in Early Steps, your family will have access to benefits such as an evaluation and assessment of your child’s strengths and needs. These assessments will help our team identify activities and services to promote your child’s development.
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
Early Intervention Teams
Each child in Early Steps will have a Service Coordinator and a Family Resource Specialist. Additional members of your child’s team may include a Development Specialist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and/or Speech Language Pathologist. Each team is individualized based on the needs of the child, and team members utilize family input in order to develop a care plan. This is called the IFSP—Individualized Family Support Plan.
Referrals & Contact Information
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