The Arkansas LEARNS Act 294 created the establishment of the Office of Early Childhood within the Arkansas Department of Education. As part of the development of the new office, the federally funded Early Intervention program, operating as First Connections, transferred to the Arkansas Department of Education on August 1, 2023. As allowed, an agreement between the Department of Education and the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Arkansas Department of Education (DOE) are working together to facilitate a smooth transition of the program.
Per agreement, DHS/DDS will maintain responsibility for Lead Agency supervision of the Part C/First Connections program through June 30,2024. Lead Agency contacts are as following: Tracy Turner, Regina Davenport, Thomas Tarpley, Melissa Weatherton.
We have begun the distribution of the program allocation notices for FY24. If you have not received your allocation by Wednesday, July 12th, 2023, please reach out to Amanda Jackson at 501-683-5805.
First Connections Providers
FC Providers are service providers committed to coordinating with families on monitoring and enhancing a child's development. Specializing in the field of early development, these professionals are active participants in meeting the needs of infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or disability while offering supportive services to the family, like parent education/training to help parents understand their child’s developmental abilities in order to promote their child’s development.
Parents and family members are a child’s first teachers and with necessary support and resources, all families can enhance their child’s learning and development.
Infants and toddlers learn best in their natural environment through everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts with typically developing peers.
All children, no matter what their physical, cognitive, or emotional level of development, need meaningful opportunities to develop skills, establish a sense of self, and lay a foundation for life-long learning.
All children learning together fosters the potential of every child; children with disabilities have the right to play and learn alongside children without disabilities.
The family and their IFSP team collaboratively plans and writes strategies/activities, services, and supports to enhance their child’s participation and learning in natural environments and everyday activities, using the child’s and family’s strengths to overcome challenges and to accomplish goals that reflect family priorities for their child’s development.
Active family/caregiver participation in the early intervention process is critical to a child’s development with support and training from qualified early intervention service providers.
Early intervention is designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or disability while offering supportive services to the family, like parent education/training to help parents understand their child’s developmental abilities in order to promote their child’s development.
Explore Our Resources
Resources for Service Providers:
The FC Tele-Intervention Session Outcome form is required documentation for any IFSP service provided via teletherapy/tele-intervention (regardless of pay source). Parent or caregiver who participated in the virtual home visit must complete checklist and sign/date form. Completed form is uploaded in case notes of child record in CDS.
Resources Within Reason:
Resources for Service Coordinators:
Required Documentation/Forms for Service Coordination Services:
The FC Remote Services Consent Form is required documentation of parent consent for any IFSP service provided via teletherapy/tele-intervention (regardless of pay source). The family’s service coordinator work with the family to ensure family consent for remote services has been granted prior to service delivery and documentation is uploaded in the child’s electronic record.
Virtual Meeting Resources:
Procedural safeguards under IDEA require prior written notice to be provided to the family before any meeting with parent/guardian or documentation that the family agreed to meet at a time / place convenient to the family before receiving prior written notice. This form is required documentation for any meeting (intake, IFSP, IFSP review, etc). The form is uploaded in case notes of child record in CDS.
Procedural safeguards under IDEA require written notice of the outcome/results of meetings with parent/guardian be sent to the family after every type of meeting (intake, IFSP, IFSP review, transition, etc). These meeting outcome notices are required documentation uploaded in case notes of child record in CDS.
Parent Consent Documentation:
Other Required Documents IFSP:
IFSP Meeting Support Documents:
How to Become a Service Provider
Information regarding the application for approval for both individuals and agencies to provide early intervention services can be obtained by contacting the local Early Intervention Monitoring Specialist in your area and requesting the DDS Certification Standards for First Connections Services.
Notice of Open Enrollment 2022
First Connections is opening provider enrollment. There is a .pdf form that can be printed off, filled in, and pages 6-8 (the application pages) returned with accompanying documentation. An electronic, fillable form, is also available; this form can be typed into and submitted by email. Application may be emailed to:
Natural Environment Readiness Self-Assessment Course
Part of LOE Application Process):
Provider Program Administrator(s) applying to become a Part C Provider for First Connections complete the Natural Environment Readiness Self-Assessment Course as part of the Limited Open Enrollment (LOE) application process. The course may also be used by existing Part C providers as part of annual ongoing professional development (3 hour certificate awarded upon successful completion of the post-assessment). The course is divided into two modules. Module 1 is a Windows Media file (with recorded animation and audio narration). Module 2 has no recorded narration/audio but does contain video links – to access these links participants will need an active Internet connection while completing Module 2. Instructions for completing the end of course post-assessment are provided in Module 2.
Module 1: Natural Environment Readiness Self-Assessment Course