Beginning in 2014, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) required States Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) programs to develop and implement a State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP). State Part C IDEA programs worked with stakeholders on a comprehensive and ambitious yet achievable multiyear SSIP to improving outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Families, Early Intervention Service Providers and Program personnel, members of the State Interagency Coordinating Council, and other stakeholders assisted with implementing, evaluating, and revising each phase of the SSIP.
Using the system framework developed by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, the First Steps EIP and stakeholders conducted an analysis of program infrastructure and child outcomes data to determine a State-identified Measurable Result (SIMR) and set targets for improvement. Then the SSIP was developed to build state capacity to support Early Intervention Service Providers and Program to implement evidence-based practices (EBPs) to make measurable improvement in a selected child outcome (i.e., SiMR).
In 2016, the original SSIP began to be implemented and evaluated according to a developed Theory of Action.
As a result of this first plan, key infrastructure improvements were implemented including:
- Local Early Intervention Program Standards were updated and embedded in annual monitoring
- First Steps collaborated with the Mississippi Department of Education and Head Start Collaboration Office Revision to participate in revisions to the Mississippi Infant-Toddler Early Learning Standards. These standards identify key outcomes for infants and toddlers up through 36 months of age and are aligned to standards for children four years of age through 12th grade.
- A leadership team was formed for supporting a Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD). This team assisted with revising the Early Intervention Personnel Standards, developing a pre-service Early Intervention training program, and revising to professional development opportunities, including creating of an Early Intervention Credential
- First Steps worked with national technical assistance consultants and stakeholder groups to develop a new comprehensive data system, i.e., the Mississippi Infant and Toddler Intervention (MITI) data system.
In addition, First Steps began implementing key evidence-based practices (EBP) including:
- First Steps adopted the Routines-Based Model developed by Robin McWilliam to promote family-centered early intervention practices
- Ongoing measurement of early language development using The Early Communication Indicator (ECI), an Individual Growth and Development Indicators for Infants and Toddlers. Resources to promote early language development were provided from the Center for Early Language and Literacy (CELL) and the Division for Early Childhood (DEC)