Improving access to First Steps

Posted by: Amy Cordill  | Friday, March 6, 2020 1:57 pm

Developmental disabilities and delays can affect the lives of children and their families in many ways. Families typically need special education services for their children, or adjustments made to educational and developmental programs. Early detection and intervention of these delays is critical because it can have long-term positive effects on quality of life. This session, I co-authored legislation that would help young Hoosiers with cognitive or physical delays and disabilities to access timelier care through Indiana's First Steps program.

Indiana's First Steps program connects families with children up to three years old who experience developmental delays with early intervention services to promote their child's growth. Each year more than 30,000 Hoosier children and their families are referred to First Steps for access to beneficial services such as medical care, family training, counseling and home visits, occupational and physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and special instruction.

The first three years of a child’s life are the most important for brain development, making these years crucial to build a foundation for future learning, quality of life and success. Early detection and intervention can greatly affect a child's ability to learn new skills and grow. For this reason, it is critical for Hoosiers to have access to the First Steps program as soon as possible.

Proposed legislation would streamline the insurance and enrollment process, eliminating time-consuming burdens and delays to get children into First Steps. A family has to get approved to be a part of this program, take it through insurance, schedule an appointment and then see their specialist. These steps can take several weeks and months, delaying access to critical support. Cutting through this red tape will help families begin the program earlier, getting the necessary resources for their child.

Providing faster access to early intervention services would benefit our state's future by playing an important role in shaping the lives of these young Hoosiers. To learn more about Indiana's First Steps Program visit iga.in.gov/fssa.

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 State Rep. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion) represents House District 31,
which includes all of Blackford County and portions of Delaware,
Grant and Wells counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.