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Screening and Evaluation

First talk to your pediatrician, friends and family members. Also click on How do I know if my child is developing correctly?. If you think an evaluation may be necessary, refer your child for an evaluation.

Free evaluation programs, referred to as Child Find, are available in Miami-Dade County for all children ages birth to 22 who are suspected of having a developmental delay or disability.

Any person (e.g., doctor, parent, caregiver) can refer a child to one of the following Child Find programs:

Birth to 3 - Early Steps (formerly The Early Intervention Program-EIP) offers evaluations for all children between birth and 3. Early Steps has two locations in Miami-Dade County. Federal law requires that these children be reported to the Early Steps within two working days of being suspected of having a delay.

The north address is:
University of Miami Mailman Center for Child Development Early Steps
1601 NW 12th Ave.
Miami, Fla. 33136
(305) 243-5600; fax: (305) 243-4595

The south address is:
South Dade Center Early Steps
Miami Children's Hospital
17615 SW 97th Ave.
Miami, Fla. 33157
(786) 268-2611; fax: (305) 252-2778

Early Steps is monitored by Children's Medical Services (CMS) of the Florida Department of Health. This program is often referred to as the Infant and Toddler Early Intervention Program or Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Ages 3 to 5 - The Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) -South Child Find arranges for free evaluations for all children not attending a Miami-Dade Public Schools and who are ages 3 to 5. FDLRS-South assists families in preparing referral packets and routes the packets to the Regional Center Prekindergarten Diagnostic Team closest to the families' home. (They also offer information about evaluations for children ages, 5 to 22.) FDLRS Child Find has one location:

FDLRS-South 5555 SW 93rd Ave. Miami, Fla. 33165 (305) 274-3501; fax (305) 598-7752

The Child Find program is mandated under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). FDLRS-South is operated through the Miami-Dade Public Schools system.

Students already enrolled in a Miami-Dade County Public School program will be evaluated in their school or in their region, not through FDLRS. Families should contact the administration at their child's school regarding a free evaluation.

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Birth to 3 - A family certainly could have a child's evaluation conducted privately at the family's expense. Once the family has had that private evaluation, the results can be presented to the multi-disciplinary team at Early Steps during the Child's Family Support Plan evaluation. They may be used to present as broad a picture as possible of the child. The team, including family members, will determine what additional assessments might be necessary.

Ages 3 to 5 - A family can have the child's evaluation conducted privately at its own expense. If the family is considering using FDLRS-South Child Find to help locate public school services for a child with a delay or disability, the family should first make certain that any private evaluation meets the requirements of Miami-Dade Public Schools' FDLRS-South Child Find evaluation procedures. Then these results may be sent into FDLRS-South. In some cases, further evaluation at FDLRS-South may not be necessary. Call FDLRS-South at (305) 274-3501 or visit the website at:

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Birth to 3 - Appointments are scheduled according to program guidelines. Appointments will occur within 45 days of the referral (except if a parent specifically requests that it occur outside that 45-day period.)

Ages 3 to 5 - Appointments are scheduled as soon as possible after return of the referral packet.

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Birth to 3 - There is no cost to a family for the child's initial evaluation. With the family's permission, Early Steps will attempt to access the family's insurance, if available, or Medicaid if applicable.

Ages 3 to 5 - Free screening and evaluation services are available though the Miami-Dade County Public School (M-DCPS) system. If a child is found eligible for special education services, the services will be provided by the public school system. For more information or to refer a child, call the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) - South at 305-274-3501. Visit us at our Web site at:

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You and your child should be well rested and have eaten a nutritious meal prior to coming to the evaluation.

Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment.

Bring extra diapers, if appropriate, and any other items to ensure your child's comfort such as healthy snacks and drinks.

Try to arrange for other children in the family to be cared for at another location.

Bring any requested documents.

Bring eyeglasses, hearing aids, medication that must be administered, communication devices or any other equipment prescribed for or needed by your child.

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For children, ages birth through 5, who appear to be particularly bright, evaluations may be conducted by private psychologists in the community at the families' expense. Children who receive scores on tests of intelligence that are above a specific criteria may qualify for gifted programs available in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for children in kindergarten through grade 12.

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No, transportation is the responsibility of the family. But if transportation is a problem, discuss this with Early Steps primary service coordinator for children birth to 3 or with persons with whom you are making the appointment at one of the region diagnostic centers, for children 3 to 5. They will help you explore possible resources and support.

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Birth to 3 - Call the Early Steps office you wish to use (in the North, call Mailman Center Early Steps at 305-243-5600; in the South, call Miami Children's Hospital Early Steps at 786-268-2611). The phone intake process at either EIP location takes about 20 minutes to obtain enough information to begin the process. An introductory letter along with your first appointment date/time will be mailed to you within 48 hours. The letter will give you information about the initial visit as well as the name of your family's service coordinator.

Ages 3 to 5 - Call FDLRS-South (305) 274-3501 and ask for Child Find. The phone intake process will take 10 to 15 minutes. A referral packet will be sent to you to complete. It will request background information about your child. You will be requested to submit or bring with you any additional information on your child, including past medical records and previous evaluation results. If your child is attending an early care and education program, you will need to have your child's teacher complete a Behavior Observation Checklist. These documents and the referral packet must be returned to FDLRS-South Child Find before an evaluation is scheduled.

If your child is attending a Miami-Dade County Public School, the administration at that school will provide you with step-by-step instructions.

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Assessment could include evaluation of mental, speech/language, physical and sensory (vision, hearing) development. Questionnaires will be completed by family members or guardians regarding social and emotional development, self-help and daily living skills. And there will be direct observation of the child.

The evaluations are multidisciplinary. Thus the family and child will be seen by more than one professional; each provides valuable information. The professional evaluation team may include physicians, occupational or physical therapists, speech/language pathologists, psychologists, developmental specialists, audiologists, social workers and family resource specialists. In addition, the family's service coordinator is always present for children birth to 3. Family members are key participants on the evaluation team.

Evaluations will be conducted in the home language of the child and family if at all possible.

The length of the evaluation is determined by the needs of the child. Usually the process will take 2 to 4 hours for children birth to age 3 and 3 to 5 hours for children ages 3 to 5. Occasionally the family will be asked to return to the evaluation site for additional assessment.

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At least one family member or guardian should accompany the child to the evaluation to provide necessary information about the child.

The family or guardian may bring along any other adult who might be helpful.

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Brought to you by The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education

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