Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Home page

First Steps Program

What it is:

The First Steps Program is designed to promote healthy birth outcomes, increase access to early prenatal care, and reduce infant morbidity and mortality. It is a voluntary program and services include:

Medical Services

  • Prenatal care,
  • Delivery,
  • Post-pregnancy follow up, including family planning
  • Dental care for women through 60 days post pregnancy
  • Newborns receive one year of full medical care.

Family Planning

  • An additional 10 months of Family Planning only is available after pregnancy medical benefits end

Enhanced Services

  • Maternity Support Services (MSS),
  • Infant Case Management (ICM), and
  • Childbirth Education (CBE)

Expedited alcohol and drug assessment and treatment services

Ancillary services

  • Expedited eligibility determination,
  • Case finding,
  • Outreach,
  • Transportation, and
  • Interpreter services.

What it does:

Maternity Support Services (MSS) are designed to provide enhanced preventive health and education services and brief interventions to eligible pregnant women as early in a pregnancy as possible based on individual risks and needs. MSS includes an assessment, education and in some cases intervention (s) and counseling. A team of community health specialists will provide the services. The team includes nurses, nutritionists and behavioral health specialists and in some agencies, community health workers.

Infant Case Management (ICM) is to improve the welfare of infants by providing their parent(s) with information and assistance in order to access needed medical, social, educational, and other services through the infant's first year of life so the baby and family can thrive. Families meeting criteria for ICM will be offered services that focus on referrals and linkage to community resources and client advocacy. Families who did not receive MSS may be eligible for ICM services.

Goals of MSS/ICM include:

  • Increase early access and on-going use of prenatal and newborn care;
  • Decrease maternal morbidity and mortality;
  • Decrease low birth-weight babies;
  • Decrease premature births;
  • Decrease infant morbidity and mortality rates;
  • Decrease health disparities;
  • Reduce the number of unintended pregnancies;
  • Reduce the number of repeat pregnancies within two years of delivery;
  • Increase initiation and duration of breastfeeding; and
  • Reduce tobacco use during pregnancy and pediatric exposure to second-hand smoke.

Who is eligible:

To be eligible for MSS, a client must:

  • Be pregnant or within 60 days post pregnancy; and
  • Have a valid Medical Services Card

To be eligible for ICM, the infant must:

  • Have a valid Medical Services Card; and
  • Be within the ICM eligibility period which is the day after the MSS ends, through the last day of the month of the infant's first birthday; and
  • Reside with at least one parent

First Step providers:

To view lists of current First Step providers visit http://www.hca.wa.gov/medicaid/firststeps/pages/provider.aspx

How to get connected:

First Steps providers are available statewide. To receive MSS and/or ICM individuals may be referred by the local Community Services Office or call 1-800-322-2588.