Evidence-Based Practices for Early Intervention

Under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), early intervention services and supports are to be based on scientific research. This means a variety of aspects are considered, including, available results of research studies, rigorous data analysis, and observations that prove the practice or service to be effective.

Professionals use strategies with families and young children that promote optimal development and the family’s capacity to support their child. Strategies that have been researched, evaluated and proven to achieve positive outcomes for children and families are called evidence-based practices.

The following national organizations have information for early intervention providers regarding research and evidence-based practices:

First Steps Trainings and Resources

The Early Intervention section of the Office of Childhood provides a variety of training opportunities to First Steps providers, Service Coordinators and stakeholders. Providers and Service Coordinators are encouraged to continue to learn about and update their knowledge of First Steps. This webpage also has monthly newsletter information for First Steps providers and Service Coordinators with training opportunities, program updates, and more.​​​​​​

Improvement Plan

Early intervention professionals can achieve positive outcomes for children and families by implementing evidence-based practices with fidelity. The Office of Special Education programs (OSEP) requires states to create and implement a State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) which is a multi-year plan to improve results for infants and toddlers served by the early intervention program. Missouri’s focus is on increasing the social and emotional development of infants and toddlers in the First Steps program.

The SSIP is part of a larger document known as the State Performance Plan (SPP) / Annual Performance Report (APR). The SPP/APR documents Missouri’s efforts to improve results for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families and to ensure that DESE meets the requirements of Part C of the IDEA. The SSIP is Indicator 11 of the SPP/APR. For more information on the SPP/APR and the SSIP, see the State Performance Plan.

Missouri’s vision for First Steps is a system that supports and provides services designed to improve family capacity to enhance their child’s development and learning, and to increase the child’s participation in family and community life. Missouri’s Theory of Action  outlines the strategies Missouri is taking to accomplish the ultimate goal: infants and toddlers participating in First Steps will be prepared for continued early learning success. Additionally, Missouri’s Sustainability Plan details the framework necessary to support the required knowledge and practices to implement evidence-based practices statewide with fidelity. Finally, the Evaluation Plan to Measure Progress Towards Intended Improvements summarizes Missouri’s plan to evaluate the progress towards the ultimate goal of infants and toddlers increasing their rate of growth in positive social-emotional skills by the time they exit First Steps.

The State continues to work on four main activities for statewide implementation of the SSIP: (1) develop sustainable foundational materials; (2) create tools to measure evidence-based practices; (3) develop a professional development system for early intervention professionals that supports evidence-based practices; and (4) embed reflective practices in ongoing training to support early intervention professionals.

As evidence-based practices evolve, so does the work in the development of tools created to measure the implementation of practices. Currently, First Steps has an evidence-based practices measurement tool for Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meetings which focuses on team discussions between the family, provider(s) and the Service Coordinator.

Evidence-Based Practice Assessments/Tools