What is EarlySteps?

EarlySteps is a program that helps families with children from 0-3 years old who may not be developing in typical ways.

This program is offered in all states and is also called Early Intervention (EI).

Image of the Early Steps Logo
is the name for for Louisiana's Early Intervention system.



Kids learn skills at different ages; things like rolling over, talking, and interacting with people around them. But sometimes they may have a developmental delay. This is when they don't do certain things that most kids their age can do.

If your child shows any sign of this, you may qualify for services to help them.

What does EarlySteps do?

  • Offers services to help children practice skills through play, and catch up in their development

  • Helps the family learn how to encourage their child's development at home

EarlySteps is run by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).  Services are free or low cost, depending on your income.  (We'll talk more about cost later in the Guide.)

Image of a child playing with a ball beside the text 'If kids get this focused to play at an early age, they are more likely to catch up in their development. The earlier the better!'

EarlySteps can help when kids have delays in any of these areas:

  • Physical: using their body to do things like nurse, roll over, sit up, walk, grab things, see, or hear

  • Cognitive: thinking and learning, recognizing familiar things, learning routines

  • Communication: understanding what you say, pointing at things they want, babbling, speaking

  • Social and Emotional: forming attachments to family and caregivers, playing with others, managing emotions

  • Adaptive: Self-help skills like eating, dressing, or using the bathroom

For example, if your child is not learning to say words when most of their friends are, they may have a speech delay.  This is very common.  Your EarlySteps program could have a speech therapist come to your home regularly to work with you and your child.  They would help you learn how to play in a way that helps your child practice the skills they need to catch up and learn to talk.

Click on the box below to learn more: 

EarlySteps comes from a Federal law, passed in 1986, called IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

  • This law says that everyone, including students with disabilities, has a right to get an education.

  • It describes the rights of people with disabilities and their parents, and provides guidelines for their education.

  • It provides money to states to give services to young kids who need help in their development.

Part C of IDEA is called The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities. This is also called Early Intervention (EI) or in Louisiana: EarlySteps. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is in charge of running it. Each state runs their program a little differently. The information in this Guide is for Louisiana.

The main point is: If kids get services at an early age, they are less likely to need extra help later on.


The goals are:

  • to help kids aged 0-3 to "catch up" in development

  • to help families meet their child's needs

  • to reduce costs of special education when the kids get older

Part B of IDEA is for school-age children. It seems backwards, but children switch to Part B after they turn 3. This will give them services to support their education from age 3-22.


Source: ECTA Center 

Click on the link at the bottom of the page to download a 1-page summary of EarlySteps.


Sources: LDH, Center for Parent Information and Resources