Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to First Step's FAQ page - your one-stop resource for all the answers you need about our programs, services, and how we provide exceptional care to our beneficiaries.

General FAQs

When was First Step established?

First Step was established in 1958. We began by serving a handful of children and adults in Garland County. Over time, we have expanded our reach to assist children and adults from 27 counties throughout Arkansas.

What is the mission of First Step?

Our mission is to promote the integration and independence of all people with disabilities. We are dedicated to providing services and support to help individuals lead fulfilling, independent lives.

What types of services does First Step provide?

First Step provides a variety of services centered around the goal of supporting children and adults with developmental delays, disabilities, and special needs.

First Step Services PDF

What is the significance of the Three-Year CARF Accreditation awarded to First Step?

The Three-Year CARF Accreditation, issued to us in March 2023, is our 4th accreditation cycle and the highest level of accreditation that can be given to a rehabilitation program. This accreditation assures that we are committed to providing excellent, evidence-based care to our patients by strictly adhering to nationally- and internationally-recognized standards of quality and patient care.

What are the accredited programs of First Step?

All of our children and adult programs at First Step are accredited. These  programs include:

  • Community Employment Services: Employment Supports
  • Community Employment Services: Job Development
  • Services for Children and Youth: Child and Adolescent Services
  • Services for Children and Youth: Early Intervention Services
  • Community Housing
  • Community Integration
  • Supported Living
What are the service areas of First Step?

Our service area spans 27 counties, with prominent locations based on enrollment data including Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Clark, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Howard, Jefferson, Lincoln, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Polk, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, and Yell counties. We also have centers located in four counties:

  • Garland County – Hot Springs; Main location
  • Hot Spring County – Malvern
  • Pike County – Glenwood
  • Dallas County – Fordyce
How do I make an appointment?

You can schedule an appointment by contacting the location closest to you. 

Hot Springs 501.624.6468

Malvern 501.337.7622

Fordyce 870.352.7975

Glenwood 870.356.3622

You can also contact us through our website for your convenience.

How do I apply to work at First Step?

You can apply for a job at First Step through our Jobs Page. For any questions related to employment, our Human Resources department can be reached at 501.622.4064.

How can I support First Step?

We greatly appreciate the support of our community! There are many ways you can contribute:

Employment: Come work for us! We have flexible hours and competitive benefits through our full-time and part-time positions. First Step offers career opportunities in Early Childhood Development, Adult Direct Care, Therapy Services, and Transportation Services. Apply through our Jobs Page.

Time and Talent: We welcome volunteers who can lend their skills and time to support our mission. Contact us for more information.

Treasure: Monetary donations are essential to maintaining and expanding our services. You can make one-time or recurring donations quickly and securely online. For more information on ways to donate, including Memorials, Honorariums, and Planned Gifts, please visit our Donations Page.

Service-Specific FAQs

What services does First Step offer for children?

We offer several services for children including:

  • First Connections: Early intervention for infants and toddlers up to 36 months.
  • Developmental Preschool/Early Intervention Day Treatment (EIDT): Developmental preschools for children aged 18 months to 6 years.
  • Therapy Services: Speech-Language Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy can be stand-alone or in facility during Preschool/EIDT.
  • School Age Program: For children aged 5 to 21 to learn independent skills.
  • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA):  ABA is a treatment based on the science of learning and behavior for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of this program is to help individuals work on skills that will help them become more independent and successful in the short term and the future.
What therapy services does First Step offer?

We offer a variety of therapy services:

  • Speech-Language Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
What services are available for adults at First Step?

We offer various adult services including:

  • Adult Developmental Day Treatment (ADDT)
  • On Our Own program
  • Supported Employment
  • Personal Care Services
What is the Community and Employment Support (CES) Waiver Services?

This program offers services to support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) with all major life activities. The goal of the waiver is to help individuals with IDD live in the community rather than in an institutional setting.

What is the Intermediate Care Facility (ICF)?

The ICF is a community-based residential program for children aged 8-18. To qualify, consumers must have a diagnosis of moderate or mild intellectual disability or be on the autism spectrum.

What is the Respite Care Service provided by First Step?

Respite Care Services provide temporary relief to caregivers by supplying a trained professional to take over their duties for a short period. This allows the primary caregiver a chance to rest, focus on personal needs, or engage in activities for self-care.

Beneficiary FAQs

On Our Own Program, Supported Living, Community Housing

What are the eligibility requirements for the On Our Own program?

To be eligible for the On Our Own program, prospective residents must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have Medicaid
  • Have a developmental disability
  • Express a desire to live with greater independence in their community
  • Provide a copy of their Social Security card at the time of application
  • Be U.S. citizens
  • Agree to pay the rent required by the program
  • Sign an Authorization for Release of Information before being accepted and every year while residing in the program
  • Ensure the unit being applied for is their only residence
  • Have a family income that does not exceed the program’s limits
What are considered developmental disabilities for eligibility in the program?

Developmental disabilities that qualify for the program include Intellectual Disability, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down’s syndrome, and Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder. The disability should have been diagnosed before the individual’s 22nd birthday. The applicant can also qualify if they have a functioning level similar to someone with these diagnoses.

How much do you pay for rent in the On Our Own facility?

Rent is based on HUD housing regulations, typically it is 30% of the applicant’s annual gross income.

Download the On Our Own application.

Are individuals without an IDD diagnosis eligible for the On Our Own program?

While our preference is for applicants that meet the criteria of an IDD diagnosis, other applicants may be considered if we cannot maintain occupancy standards and they meet all other eligibility requirements. This may also be subject to prior HUD approval.

Is housing available for couples or families in the On Our Own program?

Couples can apply, but both individuals must meet the project eligibility requirements. Unfortunately, we do not meet the housing standard requirements for families as all our apartments are 1 bedroom efficiency units and children must have their own bedroom separate from the parent.

What is the waiting period for admission into the On Our Own program?

The waitlist is difficult to set a specific timeframe because many factors affect placement, such as Medicaid Waiver approval and our ability to hire and train staff where necessary. After application, if there’s no vacancy, you’ll receive a letter with your waitlist number. You’ll be notified as soon as a spot is available and contacted annually to update your status and/or interest in remaining on the list.

Caregiver FAQs

How can First Step assist caregivers in coordinating care?

Our care coordination services are designed to assist caregivers navigate the complex healthcare system. We can help with arranging medical appointments, coordinating different healthcare providers, managing medications, and ensuring effective communication among the care team.

What kind of education and training does First Step offer for caregivers?

First Step offers comprehensive education and training programs to enhance caregivers’ knowledge and skills. We cover topics such as disease management, caregiving techniques, safety measures, and self-care strategies.

Contact Us for More Information

If you have more detailed inquiries or want to share your thoughts, feel free to fill out the form.

Remember, no question is too small or insignificant. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us. So go ahead, reach out today – we can’t wait to hear from you!

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