A program that helps provide services to infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities in Mississippi is working to make its intervention process more family oriented.
Mississippi's First Steps Early Intervention Program is an effort to help families with very young children with developmental disabilities. It's part of a state and federal program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and provides parents with screenings, evaluations and transition plans for preschool services. The program also links families with medical specialists as well as therapists.
Mary Katherine Burris has a two-year-old daughter in the program. She says it can be daunting to have so many appointments with specialists.
"We've got so many providers," Burris says. "I think the most she's had at one time was 18 doctors. She's got 18 appointments a month and those are just the regular, not counting specialists.
Stacey Callender is the program director. She says officials are working to make the program more family-friendly.
"A child doesn't need, necessarily, two or three visits per week by therapists in order to grow and develop," Callender says. "What they need are long-standing engagement in their environment. That's our real goal, is to make our program much more family focused which the research shows gives the best outcome."
There are roughly two-thousand children around the state currently enrolled in the program.