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Learn More About Conducting Family-Centered Intake

Conducting Family-Centered Intake

The intake process provides an opportunity to learn about families' priorities for their child and gather initial information about the child's and family's daily routines and resources that will inform intervention supports. 

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Review Child and Family Information Before the Intake 

  • Review available information about the family and child before the intake. The information might be provided by a community-based primary referral source or the family.   

Establish Rapport with the Caregiver   

  • Greet the caregiver and describe the role of the Intake Coordinator at Early Steps. 

  • Establish rapport and set the stage for collaborative and trusting partnerships through interactions that are sensitive and responsive to the family's questions and priorities. 

  • Provide general information about Early Steps using words the family can understand. Avoid unfamiliar or technical words.  


Listen, Acknowledge, and Respond to the Caregiver Using Family-Centered Practices 

  • Actively listen to the caregiver while confirming the child's background information and information included in the referral. 

  • Invite the caregiver to share what led them to contact Early Steps (e.g., Tell me what led you to contact Early Steps.)  Avoid asking caregivers to talk about their "concerns" or "needs."  

  • Confirm why the referral was made and if the referral reflects the family's priorities and concerns.  

  • Actively listen to what the caregiver shares and ask short and clear follow-up questions when needed.  

  • Use words that show respect for the family's priorities, values, beliefs, and culture. 


Describe Early Steps and FL-EPIC  

  • Describe that Early Steps is Florida's early intervention program offering supports and services for families of children ages birth to three who have or are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities.  

  • Share information about the services and supports available through Early Steps, including the Early Steps approach to caregiver coaching, which enhances caregivers' knowledge and skills about supporting their child's development and learning in everyday routines.  

  • Offer to provide access to resources that describe Early Steps and FL-EPIC


What an Intake Coordinator might say about how Early Steps works: ​

  • If your child is eligible, an Early Steps provider will visit regularly and support you and your family to help your child learn new skills during your everyday routines. We call this approach Florida Embedded Practices and Intervention with Caregivers (FL-EPIC). 

  • Supports and services are individualized for each child's and family's preferences, priorities, and strengths. 


What an Intake Coordinator might say about what happens during an Early Steps visit:  ​

  • Your provider will partner with you to identify daily routines—like meals, bath, or outdoor play—when you can support your child to practice skills you want them to learn. 

  • You and your provider will work together to help you identify and use strategies to help your child develop and learn. 

  • You will have the tools you need to support your child's development and learning during routines between provider visits. 


Conduct Initial Social-Emotional Screening 

  • At some local Early Steps sites, the Intake Coordinator may also ask questions about a child's social-emotional development. Asking families these questions could identify early signs that Early Steps teams may need to provide more support around social-emotional skills and outcomes. Responses to the following questions are shared with the family's Early Steps team: 

    • Does your child enjoy playing simple back-and-forth games such as peek-a-boo with you or other family members? 

    • Is your child able to calm themself quickly when unhappy or upset? 

    • Does your child follow simple directions or do what you ask them to do during familiar routines and activities? 

    • Does your child use simple words, sounds, or gestures you understand to let you know when they need or want something?  

    • (Ask this question only for children 24 months and older) Does your child share or play together with siblings or other children? 

    • (Ask this question only for children 24 months or older) Does your child show challenging behaviors? When and how often? 


Describe Next Steps Including First Contact, Evaluation, and Assessment 

  • Provide the family with information about the next steps, including first contact with their service coordinator. Let families know that their service coordinator will schedule an evaluation, if necessary, to determine if the child is eligible for Early Steps services and supports. The family's service coordinator will also coordinate with the family to schedule assessments to help determine the child and family's current strengths and skills and set up a meeting to develop their Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP).   

  • More information about evaluation and assessment can be found in Exchange Information about Child Skills and Participation in Routines. 


Close the Conversation  

  • Summarize the information you have exchanged with the family.

  • Ask the family if they have any remaining questions or additional information they would like to share. Provide them with a name and information for someone they can contact if they have further questions or would like to request additional information before first contact with their service coordinator.

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