First Steps

Families can learn new ways to encourage and support their child’s development

First Steps is a support and service system designed to improve family capacity to enhance their child’s development and learning and to increase the child’s participation in family and community life.

As Missouri’s Early Intervention Program, First Steps serves families with young children ages birth to three, who have special needs or developmental delays that may require a little extra support. First Steps is about helping these infants and toddlers acquire important developmental skills, such as crawling, playing, talking and eating, during their first three years. Services are provided to support the family’s ability to meet their child’s developmental needs. By bringing families together with early intervention specialists, families can learn new ways to encourage and support their child’s development within their daily activities.

Eligibility Requirements

Abilities First has operated the First Steps System Point of Entry in Region 8 (SPOE 8) in South Central Missouri since February 2006 through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Counties in SPOE 8 include: Christian, Dallas, Douglas, Greene, Hickory, Laclede, Ozark, Polk, Taney, Texas, Stone, Webster, and Wright.

Children who are eligible for early intervention services are children between the ages of birth and 36 months that meet the eligibility criteria.

  • Diagnosed physical or mental condition associated with developmental disabilities.

  • Condition with a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay or disability (such as a very low birth weight child who has experienced intracranial bleeding or ventilator dependency).

  • Functioning at half the developmental level expected for a child of equal age in one or more of the following areas: communication, adaptive, physical (including vision and hearing), cognitive or social/emotional.

To make a referral for SPOE 8, call (417) 886-0404 option 1.

For additional information about the Missouri First Steps program or to make a referral statewide, call toll-free 1-866-583-2392 or visit the Missouri First Steps website.