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Florida Early Intervention Definitions A-F

Activity Settings

The everyday family and community experiences, events, and situations that provide learning opportunities for children and have development-enhancing (or development-impeding) qualities and consequences.  Examples of family activity settings may include bath time, eating, and play activities.  Community activity settings may include child care, playground, and swimming.

Agency for Health Care Administration   

The entity responsible for administration of Florida’s Medicaid program and the lead agency designated to oversee payments for medical assistance and related services under Title XIX of the Social Security Act.


A hearing instrument worn by a person with diagnosed hearing loss that make sounds louder. Hearing instruments (hearing aids) are set specifically for individual hearing losses and couple to ears by custom-made ear molds.  Analog or linear, programmable, and digital hearing instruments may be appropriate.

Annual Review Evaluation of the IFSP     

A face-to-face annual review of a child's development in all domains, including review of existing evaluations and assessments from community providers and a determination of continuing eligibility.  The IFSP team will review the success and appropriateness of the services authorized on the IFSP and considers revision(s) of the Individualized Family Support Plan as needed and agreed upon by the Individualized Family Support Plan Team.  At a minimum, the family, service coordinator and at least one other professional member of the team must attend.  IDEA Part C refers to this review as an annual evaluation of the IFSP.

Arena-Style Assessment      

A planned observation process which typically involves a facilitator, who serves as the primary contact with the child and family during the assessment process; another team member who may serve as a coach to support the facilitator, provide cues for missed items, or reflect on what could be done to enhance the assessment; and may involve one or more observers who serve as the multidisciplinary “eyes and ears” if expertise from more than two backgrounds and training is necessary.  The family participates as additional observers, and contributors (Berman & Shaw, 1996). This approach allows team members to be involved in planning the assessment and observing the child in the assessment setting.  The child interacts with just one adult rather than all members of the assessment team.  Arena assessment allows for an interactive and integrated process across domains to get a holistic picture of the child.

Articulation disorder           

A disorder characterized by the inaccurate production of sounds past the age at which correct production should occur.


The ongoing multidisciplinary procedures used by appropriate qualified personnel throughout the period of a child's eligibility to identify  the child's unique strengths and needs and the services appropriate to meet those needs.  An initial assessment refers to the assessment of the child and the family assessment conducted prior to the child‘s first IFSP meeting.

Assistive Technology Device           

Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, including a cochlear implant, or the optimization (e.g., mapping), maintenance, or replacement of that device.

Assistive Technology Service          

A service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device including:

    • The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment. (Assistive Technology Evaluation Code  ASTE, Augmentative Communication Evaluation Code  AGCM)
    • Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities.
    • Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices.
    • Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs.
    • Training or technical assistance for a child with disabilities or, if appropriate, that child's family.
    • Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing early intervention services) or other individuals who provide services to or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities.

Audiological Evaluation      

Diagnostic tests performed by an audiologist to determine if hearing loss is present.

Audiological Screening        

Tests that screen for hearing ability by introducing specified amounts of sound into an individual’s ears with the purpose of receiving either an objective (ABR or OAE) or a behavioral response.  Persons receiving an audiological screening either “pass” or “fail” in one or both ears.  Individuals who fail audiological screening require an evaluation by an audiologist to diagnose if hearing loss is present.

Authorized Representative 

Any entity or individual designated by ESSO or a LES identified to conduct any audit, evaluation, or compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Part C of IDEA requirements.


Federal legislation providing guidance to states by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect.  The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

"Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation"; or

"An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."


The taxonomy code used in the early intervention data system for service coordination activity that does not meet the Medicaid description for Targeted Case Management.

Central Directory     

A statewide system for providing resource and referral information to families of infants and toddlers who have disabilities or are at risk of developmental delay, as well as professionals and paraprofessionals serving the population.

Child Find    

A system required by Part C of the IDEA that ensures that infants and toddlers in the state who are eligible for services under IDEA, Part C are identified, located, and evaluated, including an effective method to determine which children are receiving needed early intervention services.  The child find system under IDEA, Part C must be coordinated with all other major efforts conducted by the State to locate and identify children such as the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) system under Part B, Head Start, Maternal and Child Health Programs and Medicaid Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) programs.

Children’s Medical Services (CMS)          

A comprehensive program within the Florida Department of Health that consists of the following components:

    • The newborn screening program established in 383.145 Florida Statutes.
    • The regional perinatal intensive care centers program established in 383.15 - 383.19, Florida Statutes.
    • The developmental evaluation and intervention program, established in 391.301, Florida Statutes.
    • Early Steps, also known as the Florida Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Program, established in 391.308, Florida Statutes.
    • The Children's Medical Services network established in 391.029, Florida Statutes

Children’s Medical Services Care Coordination Plan   

A plan developed by the CMS Network Care Coordinator and the family, based on information from the assessment process, that identifies the activities and timeframes to meet a child’s medical needs.

Children’s Medical Services Network       

A component of the CMS Program; a statewide-managed care network that includes a specified provider panel, a defined benefit package, and case management (care coordination) for eligible children from birth until age 21 with special health care needs.

Children’s Registry and Information System (CHRIS)        

A data management and service coordination system, coordinated through the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) Network, for children, birth through age six, to assist local school districts in the educational planning of service needs.


An interactive process of observation and reflection in which the coach promotes the other person's ability to support the child in being and doing.  Coaching assists persons who are identified as being significant in the child’s life, and who the child wants and needs to be with and doing what he or she wants and needs to do (Shelden & Rush, 2001).

Community Partners           

Local interagency councils, community groups, early intervention service providers, local governmental agencies, corporations and other organizations that are involved with or interested in services for infants and toddlers and their families.


The parent has been fully informed of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought, in the parent’s native language or other mode of communication.

The parent understands and agrees in writing to the carrying out of the activity for which consent is sought and the consent describes that activity and lists the records (if any) that will be released and to whom.

The parent understands that the granting of consent is voluntary on the part of the parent and may be revoked at any time, however consent revocation is not retroactive (i.e., it does not apply to an action that occurred before the consent was revoked).


A process in which direct service providers on the child’s IFSP team meet together to share content expertise in a specific area or discuss evidence-based practice related to the implementation of strategies to achieve outcomes on the individualized family support plan (IFSP).  Consultation may be via telephone contact or face-to-face meeting.  The family is informed of and participates in consultation at the level desired.

Continuous Improvement Plan      

A document that contains written actions for each program standard which was determined to be out of compliance during the annual Early Steps Quality Assurance Review Process.


A specified dollar amount an insured person must pay for covered health care services.  The insured person pays this amount to the provider at the time of service.


Standards on which a judgment or decision may be based.


Standards which measure the degree to which progress toward achieving outcomes is being made and whether modifications or revisions of the outcomes or services are necessary.

Cultural Competence          

A set of values, behaviors, attitudes, and practices within a system, organization, and program or among individuals and which enables them to work effectively cross culturally.  Further, it refers to the ability to honor and respect the beliefs, language, inter-personal styles and behaviors of individuals and families receiving services, as well as staff who are providing such services.


A curriculum-based test identifies a child's ability to perform functional skills within a developmental sequence.  Curriculum-based assessment uses developmental landmarks or expectancies as potential instructional goals and objectives.


Information in a form suitable for processing by a computer, which is organized for analysis and used as the basis for management and decision-making.


The amount that must be paid out-of-pocket before an insurance company pays its share. Usually, the higher the deductible; the lower the premium.

Department of Education   

The federally recognized State Education Agency (SEA) is responsible for the administration and oversight of IDEA Part B specially designed instruction and related services - and in Florida, this agency is the Florida Department of Education.  The Florida Department of Education is primarily responsible for the state supervision of public elementary schools and secondary schools in Florida. 


A deposition is the testimony of a witness taken prior to a hearing. 


Physical destruction or removal of personal identifiers from information so that the information is no longer personally identifiable.

Developmental Evaluation and Intervention (DEI) Program         

A program to identify and track infants at high risk for developmental disabilities.  The program provides services to eligible infants who are admitted to hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units.  Infants must meet both medical and financial eligibility criteria and must be determined to need DEI services.

Developmental Screening    

A brief assessment procedure designed to identify infants and toddlers who may have a developmental concern and need more intensive diagnostic or assessment activities.  A screening may also provide helpful information to the evaluation and assessment team.


A profession or vocation regulated by the State of Florida, Department of Health, Medical Quality Assurance.

Durable Medical Equipment          

Durable Medical Equipment (DME) is defined as medically-necessary equipment that can withstand repeated use, serves a medical purpose, and is appropriate for use in the recipient’s home as determined by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).


Duration means the period of time during which a service persists, specifying the start date and end date (e.g., 3 months – May 1, 2009 through August 1, 2009).  Duration is stated in specific and measurable terms projecting when a given service will no longer be provided (such as when the child is expected to achieve the results or outcomes in his or her IFSP).

Early Childhood Education

Service provided to a child who requires socialization opportunities in structured early care and education setting in order to achieve specific IFSP outcomes, when no other opportunity exists as a part of everyday routines, activities, and places or other community programs.

Early Intervention Services

Services that are designed to meet the developmental needs of an eligible child and their family as stated in the Individualized Family Support Plan and provided under public supervision by qualified personnel through private and public resources.

Early Steps   

A comprehensive, multidisciplinary, community-based, family-focused system that provides a coordinated system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with a developmental delay or an established condition which may result in a delay.  This umbrella program has three components:  the Developmental, Evaluation and Intervention (DEI) Program, the IDEA, Part C Program, and services provided under Chapter 393, Florida Statutes, for children, birth to 36 months.

Early Steps Record  

Any information recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, and microfiche.  As used in policy, record refers to any recorded information related to screening, evaluation and assessment, eligibility determination, development and implementation of the Individualized Family Support Plan, provision of services, individual complaints dealing with the child, and any other area under IDEA, Part C related to the child or the child's family. It also refers to the documentation of provider qualifications.  The Early Steps record consists of both what is maintained by the LES and what is maintained by providers.

Early Steps State Office (ESSO)    

A bureau under Children’s Medical Services within the Florida Department of Health that oversees a statewide, coordinated system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or established conditions.

Established Condition         

A diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in disability or developmental delay.


The multidisciplinary procedures used by appropriate qualified personnel to determine a child's initial and continuing eligibility for Early Steps, consistent with the definition of “infants and toddlers with disabilities” in §303.21, including determining the status of the child in each of the developmental areas in 34 CFR §303.21(a)(1).  An initial evaluation refers to the child‘s evaluation to determine his or her initial eligibility.

Evaluation & Assessment Team     

A group consisting of at least two (2) professionals from two different disciplines who collect and synthesize information from those who are familiar with the child, as well as gathering new information using appropriate tools and procedures for the purpose of identifying the child’s strengths, needs, and making recommendations for support and services to meet those needs.  The team must be multidisciplinary having specialists available, as appropriate, to address the individualized needs of infants and toddlers served.

Everyday Routines, Activities, Places (ERAP)           

Routines that are customarily a part of families’ day (e.g., mealtime, bath time, playtime, car rides, nap time).  Activities a family does with their infant or toddler on a regular basis (e.g., going for a walk, feeding ducks at the park, playgroups, shopping, story time at the library).  And places where families and children participate on a regular basis (e.g., home, child care, neighborhood, library, park, and store).

Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs)

In an EPO arrangement, an insurance company contracts with hospitals or specific providers. Insured members must use the contracted hospitals or providers to receive benefits from these plans.

Ex Parte Court Order         

A court order made or undertaken on behalf of only one of the parties involved in a court case.


For the purpose of Early Steps, anyone who has an integral role in the care and rearing of the child which includes: parents, siblings, grandparents, stepparents, and other family members such as aunts, cousins, or other primary caregivers, e.g., foster parents or others as identified by the family. 

Family Assessment   

An assessment of the family's routines, concerns, resources, and priorities that is based on information provided by the family through personal interview. The assessment is conducted by qualified personnel.  Family assessments under this part must be family-directed and designed to determine the resources, priorities, and concerns of the family and the identification of the supports and services necessary to enhance the family’s capacity to meet the developmental needs of the child.

Family training, counseling, and home visits           

Services provided, as appropriate, by social workers, psychologists, and other qualified personnel to assist the family of a child eligible under this part in understanding the special needs of the child and enhancing the child's development.

Family Resource Specialist

Individuals employed by the Local Early Steps who assist families of children in the early intervention system by providing information, support, and training, and also serve as a community link to family centered efforts and activities.  All Family Resource Specialists are family members of a child who received or would have been eligible for early intervention services.

First Contacts           

This is the phase of the Early Steps process that occurs between referral and the initial evaluation/assessment, i.e., the first 44 days of a family’s involvement with Early Steps.  The purpose of the First Contacts process is to gather information about the child and family in preparation for the evaluation and assessment and provide the family with information about Early Steps. 

Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS)      

A student support system responsible for the location and identification of children who may be eligible for IDEA services (Child Find). FDLRS also provides public awareness, screening, in-service training, technology and parent services as a support for school districts, families and community organizations that serve children with disabilities, birth through twenty-one years of age.

Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers (FICCIT)     

A council that advises the Early Steps State Office in the implement of a statewide system - coordinated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary interagency programs providing early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays.  FICCIT consists of members who are appointed by the Governor and represent the population of the state.

Foster Parent

A person in a parental relationship to a child, or any person exercising supervisory authority over a child in place of the parent. A foster parent is not considered an agency employee solely because payment is received for a child cared for in the foster home. Foster parents serve as "parent" to students with disabilities in educational matters. If a child lives with a foster parent who is also an employee of the school district, the foster parent continues to represent the child's educational interest as a parent; no surrogate parent is required.

Free appropriate public education (FAPE)           

Special education and related services that:

    • Are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;
    • Meet the standards of the State educational agency (SEA), including the requirements of Part B of the Act;
    • Include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and
    • Are provided in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP) that meets the requirements of 34 CFR 300.320 through 300.324.


Frequency means how often or the number of days or sessions that a service will be provided, whether the service is provided on an individual or group basis.  Frequency is stated in specific and measurable terms.


The process of soliciting and gathering voluntary contributions of money or other resources by requesting donations from individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies.


Florida Early Steps Policy Manual Definitions

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