Program to Move to Electronic System
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) recently announced that a contract has been awarded to reshape the First Steps program’s current form-based information and billing system to a real-time, Web-based data management, recordkeeping and claims processing system.
First Steps is a statewide early intervention system that provides services to children with developmental disabilities, from birth to age three, and their families. The program is Kentucky's response to the federal Infant-Toddler Program (ITP). First Steps offers comprehensive services through coordination with a variety of community agencies and service disciplines.
As a First Steps provider, Jennifer Lindberg has her work cut out for her. A developmental interventionist for the statewide early intervention system, Lindberg travels throughout central Kentucky to provide services to children with developmental disabilities and their families. Her work, like the other First Steps providers around Kentucky, will have a lasting impact.
“The early years are so important,” said Lindberg, who works with families as well as child care providers to help identify strategies to assist children experiencing developmental delays, such as language barriers or behavioral problems. “It really can help the child.”
Now, First Steps is doing something to help its providers.
“This investment by CHFS demonstrates our commitment to streamlining business processes for service providers and community partners and moving toward an e-health network that will support planning, recordkeeping and billing,” said William D. Hacker, M.D., CHFS acting undersecretary for health and public health commissioner.
The Technology-assisted Observation and Teaming Support system (TOTS) is expected to be operational within one year.
First Steps employs providers from a variety of disciplines. Services are provided in natural environments where childcare normally takes place. This may be in the home, at child development or other designated centers or in a clinical setting, depending on the needs of the child and family and the availability of services in a given area.
The updated billing system is expected to enhance the work of program providers, who deliver numerous services to Kentucky families and children with developmental delays.
“Employees in the field told us they wanted to spend less time on paperwork and billing and more time with children and families. We’ve heard them, and we’re going to make that happen,” said Kirsten Hammock, First Steps program administrator.
Service providers, community partners and other stakeholders may look for weekly TOTS updates in the First Steps Newsletter available on the First Steps Web site.