If you or your pediatrician suspect that your child’s development is not on target, we are here to help. Our qualified staff will complete a full developmental evaluation to determine eligibility for services. If your child is eligible, we will work with you and your Family Resources Coordinator (FRC) to develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). A Step Ahead is able to offer one or more of the following services in helping your child meet his/her developmental outcomes:

Home Based Services

Special Instruction
girl with cookie cutterSpecially designed teaching strategies to assist children in developing across all areas of development (cognition, communication, social, self-care, gross and fine motor skills)

Speech/Language Pathology
Helps with communication skills to include simple sign language; vocabulary development; speech production; and augmentative communication devices. Also assists in feeding skills.

Occupational Therapy
Assists children in developing daily living skills, including feeding, dressing, gross and fine motor development. Also evaluates and treats sensory processing disorders.

Physical Therapy
Provides exercises, positioning strategies, and equipment to help children improve their gross motor skills.

Infant Mental Health
Infant Mental Health Specialists are available to provide short-term relationship-based services for caregivers and their infant or toddler who is exhibiting social/emotional

Vision Services
Consultations with Teachers of the Visually Impaired are available to children who have low vision or blindness.

The Philosophy Behind Home Visiting
Research indicates that children learn best in the context of secure and loving relationships. When interventions are provided at home, children have with multiple opportunities to practice functional skills such as walking around furniture at home; requesting food at mealtimes; or sharing toys with friends at childcare. Our teachers and therapists work closely with caregivers to find fun and meaningful activities which capitalize on natural learning opportunities throughout the day. “I believe the work (our therapist) did in our home one-on-one got the ball rolling for increased communication…”

Community Based Services

boy with sheep

With your provider’s permission, we may provide services in your child’s childcare.

Play Groups
Our classroom in Spanaway is available for a variety of play group experiences. Children may also be eligible to join one of our Inclusive Play to Learn classes in collaboration with the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. As times and availability change frequently, please visit our website or call the office for the latest information.

Field Trips
Field trips are offered throughout the year in order to introduce families to our community’s wealth of fun learning activities. We will support you and your child to make this a successful experience. Scholarships for entrance fees are available if needed. Some of our more popular field trips include Point Defiance Zoo, Mel Korum YMCA, The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, and area parks.

Family Parties
A Step Ahead offers occasional parties for a fun change of pace! Look for invitations in the mail for these family events.


boy with rubber ballBOOST is a program to help infants and toddlers in foster or kinship care gain access to early learning opportunities and early childhood mental health services. This program is funded through grants and donations and is available to any child ages birth to five who has been removed from his or her home due to abuse or neglect. A Step Ahead provides home visiting services with one of our Infant Mental Health Specialists or we refer out to community partners able to address identified developmental concerns. In addition to family based services, we also provide trainings to a variety of community partners (DSHS, CASA, Juvenile Court officers, Foster Placement Services) on the social emotional development and the impact of relationship disturbances or trauma on young children. In the past, we have presented to the Annual Domestic Violence conference, the Infant and Early Childhood Conference, and the Washington State Behavioral Healthcare conference. For further information about family services or training opportunities, please contact Melissa Russell at 253-363-0570 or .

Additional Information

Many of our services are funded through federal, state, and local dollars, and are provided at no cost. Medical insurance is billed to cover the cost of therapy services and families may be responsible for co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance. These costs will be reviewed with you prior to starting services. Please contact your insurance company or Family Resources Coordinator for information specific to your child.

Information about early intervention services in our state

Information about early intervention services and your parents’ rights

Enrollment form

Authorization for Release of Records

ASAP welcomes the enrollment of all eligible children regardless race, religion, or nationality.

Blog Posts for Parents

YMCA Move and Groove Playtime Nov 5th

A Step Ahead in partnership with the Mel Korum YMCA had another splendid movement and play opportunity using the YMCA ‘s incredible GYM. A total of 27 children and 19 parents/grandparents and 5 educators/therapists enjoyed the event. Children and parents moved through David’s inspired semi-wrap around the room obstacle course utilizing giant bolsters, mats, cubes and even a. slide. A few ride toys, 2 teeter totters, 2 toddler climbers and a baby crawl zone were featured activities. There was a bean bag toss, musical instruments, colorful balls ,scarves, animal puppets and giant purple puff balls set in various zones about the room for children to enjoy. The room length trampoline and the pool filled with foam cubes was a very popular area to play in. We were delighted to see many interactions taking place between children such as watching each other as children jointly teeter tottered, playing puff ball into the bucket together, and children watching and following one-another through obstacle courses. Some friendships were formed as two little girls played ball toss back and forth with each other, then followed one another in play. We concluded our event with a giant circle time where and we sang together using clappers,giant bungees and a parachute for our special version of “Wheels on the Bus”. A big thank you goes to David and our new volunteer Bekah who spent an hour helping set up zones for everyone’s enjoyment. Educators Yok ( photographer etraordionaire)) La Guilia, Karen O.T. attended the event and supported their children in play. A big thank you to all the families who took the time to bring their wee ones to this very active play time, I hope you all were rewarded by your children taking long naps!
Look for postings on our website in January for next years YMCA events. Marti Cates.

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Story Alive “The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything”

On Oct 27th A Step Ahead in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and Tacoma School of the Arts transformed the museum to reflect the harvest and fall themed story. Hundreds of hours were spent creating props, and activities to Bring this story to Life for our children. Included were an interactive corn maze featuring come to life props from the story. Children could explore the museum and float pumpkins down the river, dig up vegetables in the giant sand box, build a glow in the dark scare crow in the glow in the dark Bat cave, get fall leaves tattooed on their faces, Create collage or painted pumpkins and so much more. There were so many activities and creative zones that the museum requested to keep the exhibits up for several extra days for their visitors to enjoy. The final act was the SOTA students performing the story in song along with several other songs and chants. most of our children sat mesmerized during the performances even those who by parents accounts never sit that long. Each family received a copy of the book and each child chose a mini pumpkin to take home. It was an extraordinary event supported by numerous volunteers. our reward was hearing many accounts from parents of how this Story to Life event impacted children. One Grandparent was so surprised to hear her grandson with limited speech on the way home in the car open the story and name all of the clothing that followed the little old lady in the story along with the sounds they had produced. Many parents reported that children wanted to hear the story over and over again at home. Another parent reported that her children’s favorite books have been those received in a Story Alive event. The whole intent of Story Alive is to bring meaning to stories and the vocabulary in stories. First we familiarize children through play and interactive experiences with the story characters and events. Then we sing and act out stories to them. Song and actions paired with visual displays of story objects, characters and events reinforce and bring meaning to the vocabulary and events talked about in the story. Many of our children are unable to sit through a story but will sit through a song. As the Tacoma School Of the Arts students perform -sing our stories many of our movers, shakers and squirmers sit mesmerized. Frequently parents share their surprise over their children’s wrapped attention. We also tolerate and allow children to play quietly and tune in from afar if that is what best supports their regulating themselves. All children receive the story so that parents may repeat and reinforce the story at home and encourage their child’s lifelong love of books. Thanks to our director Candy Watkins support in writing grants we make book giving to our children possible.
Please look on our website for future Story Alive Events which will occur in February and May of 2015. You won’t want to miss this(siblings are welcome too). If you are wondering if your child can tolerate such an event please talk to your child’s teacher or therapist and ask for help with supporting your child. We have noise canceling headphones ,weighted vests, and quiet areas available for use at the museum during these events. It’s our pleasure at All Step Ahead to support your child’s success.

Marti Cates

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The Baja Bash 2014

Thanks to all of you who supported our fundraiser on Saturday night!  It was so much fun!  Thanks again to our sponsors: Sound Family Medicine; Favors, Rettig,CPAs; Tom Taylor Insurance; Totem Ocean Express; and Exceptional Families Network.  We couldn’t have done it without you!!

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Story Alive

Some of the children in our program have a difficult time sitting to listen to simple picture books and stories. Our Teacher Marti has come up with many great ideas on how to help children engage with reading. She has provided workshops to local library story tellers and has created many fun activities to make reading more interactive. Perhaps her best creation yet is her “Story Alive” program. This program takes favorite children’s books and turns them into fun and interactive events. Her latest production was in partnership with students from the Tacoma School of the Arts. These students used their talents to write a jingle to sing the book and to make wonderful masks and costumes to depict the animals in the story. We love this program and we love our partnerships with both the Children’s Museum who hosted it and the SOTA students!

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Our 13th Annual Winter Party – Great Fun!

A Step Ahead hosted its 13th annual Winter Party for families in our program.  This is the second year at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and over 100 attended!  The Museum is such a great place with multi-sensory experiences for all to enjoy.  The water table is always the biggest hit.  Children left with a snack and small prize to take home.  Happy Holidays to all!

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