Description: The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requested support to more accurately set parameters for caseload size and configurations of service coordination that would be allowable in new bids for the System Points of Entry (SPOE) sites for regional oversight of the First Steps Program (Part C for MO). The information was collected through mixed methods that took into account the existing infrastructure, workload, effectiveness, and efficiency of service coordination.


Project Contact:               Kathryn L. Fuger, 816.235.5351,

Project Period:                 2012-2013

Project Funding:              $24,600

Funding Source:               Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Core Functions

Applied Research:  In the determination of recommendations for caseload size, IHD faculty compiled information from the First Steps database, SPOE documents, interviews, and observations of service coordination activities.  IHD faculty employed mixed methods in this review of existing materials and collection of new data to provide evidence-based rationale for decisions about service coordination in Missouri’s First Steps program.

Community Services and Supports: An underlying principle in the data collection process was the recognition of diversity in families, in communities, in regions, and in the appropriateness of intervention responses based on these differences.  Grounding the study in on-site observation and interaction in three diverse SPOE regions of Missouri enriched the presentations and discussions and strengthened the applicability of the findings.

Information Dissemination: The content of the materials developed by IHD faculty was finalized with DESE and developed into a collaborative presentation with another contractor that gathered service coordination information comparing Missouri to other States.   Interactive discussions during the presentation and during a later State Interagency Coordinating Council meeting further enhanced the usefulness of the service coordination study.


Program Need and Historical Context

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, while preparing to develop new contracts for the System Points of Entry (SPOEs) for regional oversight of the First Steps Program (Part C for MO), requested support to more accurately set parameters on caseload size and configurations of service coordination that would be allowable in response to SPOE contract bids.


Consumer and Community Involvement

IHD faculty attended home visiting meetings and service coordinator meetings in the process of collecting relevant information to inform the study.


Significant Project Activities and Outcomes

IHD provided an in-depth review of three SPOE regions by reviewing existing documents, conducting interviews of service coordinators and SPOE Directors, observing the data entry and home visiting processes, and retrieving First Steps data to identify the infrastructure and workload of each identified SPOE. Compilation and analysis of the data resulted in the provision of an overview/summary of the SPOE infrastructure and workload for the service coordinators in each region researched. It will also resulted in a recommendation to the Office of Special Education as to the appropriateness of the Missouri caseload size/range of 40 to 60, taking into consideration the current infrastructure and workload of service coordination within First Steps.  The presentation provided numerous additional recommendations regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of various SPOE operations, with specific consideration given to the nature of service coordination in rural versus urban areas of the state, intake versus ongoing caseloads, the use of data support staff to provide assistance to the service coordinator, the frequency/length of home visits and the amount of data entry in the electronic record system.  The and supporting documentation, final integrated presentation, handout materials, and interactive discussion with the other collaborating contractors culminated with an overview/summary and recommendations to inform the service coordination policies and procedures for First Steps.


Unusual Features

Among the unusual features of this project are the mixed methods of data collection and the opportunity to use these to inform the process of setting parameters for state contract bids.



  • Interview questions and protocols
  • Supporting documentation
  • Final presentation with handout materials