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Family and Social Services Administration

First Steps Home > How to Get Help > Qualifying for Program First Steps Qualifying Developmental Delays

Developmental Delay means a delay in one or more of the following areas of childhood development as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and standard procedures. Areas of assessment include:

  • Cognitive development
  • Physical development, including vision and hearing
  • Communication development
  • Social and/or emotional development
  • Adaptive development, including eating skills, dressing and toileting skills and other areas of personal responsibility


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

  • Chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorder
  • Neurological disorder
  • Congenital disorder Sensory Impairment, including vision and hearing
  • Severe toxic exposure, including prenatal exposure
  • Neurological abnormality in the newborn period
  • Low birth weight of less than or equal to one thousand five hundred (1500) grams


First Steps Eligibility Criteria:

Families who are eligible to participate in the Indiana First Steps System have children under the age of three (3) who:

  • Are experiencing developmental delays (25% or -2 standard deviations from the mean in one or more developmental domains) or
  • Are experiencing developmental delays (20% or -1.5 standard deviations from the mean in two or more developmental domains) or
  • Have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay. A child with a diagnosis may be eligible and not currently in need of services; in that case, the family will receive information on their rights, the child’s current developmental level, community supports/services, and how to contact the system should they have further concerns or the child’s status changes.

Eligibility is determined by a multidisciplinary team using multiple sources of information and must be re-determined annually during a face-to-face meeting with the child and the family.