About Us

Our mission is to educate and care for children with special needs and medical conditions alongside their typically developing peers in inclusive environments and support their families.

Founded in 1957, First Steps strives to nurture the whole person in an inclusive environment and see everyone as having the potential to succeed. Our vision is to:

* Enhance the quality of life for children and their families.
* Eliminate barriers to services for children with special needs.
* Empower families as they seek to meet the needs of their children.
* Improve the community as a whole; child by child, family by family.
* Celebrate each child’s unique potential.
 Whether we are providing individualized preschool instruction in our child development center or supporting families in the home through our community outreach program, our philosophy is the same — we never underestimate a child.

Partnering with Parents

We recognize that no one knows children better than their parents. That’s why we involve parents in every aspect of our work.

Our preschool teachers are more effective when parents share insights with them about their children, participate in activities at our child development center and reinforce learning and development at home. Through the Parents Portal on this Web site, we share information on our curriculum and activities. We encourage feedback and suggestions.

Additionally, our First Steps’  Parent Connection Committee is made up with parents who work directly with us to ensure our programs meet the needs of families and the community. For more information, contact Stephanie Underwood, (615) 690-3091 or sunderwood@firststepsnashville.org.


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about First Steps Nashville

2017-2018 Board of Directors

Wil Caldwell, President

David Wedemeyer, Vice President
Phil Groves, Treasurer & Finance Chair

Emily Runzo, Secretary

Bahar Azhdari

Stuart Burkhalter

Jay Davis

Matt Eskind

Phil Groves

Kristy Frazier

Jon Harris

Amy Hobbs

Ruthie Huggins

Kathy Medlin

Holly Poff

Marcy Rehse

Harlow Summerford

Dr. Travis Walters


First Steps Nashville Board of Directors

Helpful Links

Tennessee Early Intervention System

Tennessee Department of Human Services

Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities

United Way of Metropolitan Nashville

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

The National Individualizing Preschool Inclusion Project

Nashville Parent Magazine

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder

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Benefits of Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education is recognized as playing an integral part in a child’s development and future success.

Increase in Vocabulary Development and Cognitive Abilities

Early childhood education helps children increase their vocabulary by familiarizing them with words and their meanings. According to Rand Corporation Research, early education has lasting benefits, showing increases in IQ levels and cognitive abilities (i.e. understanding both concrete and abstract thought).

Behavioral and Social Improvements

Children exposed to early childhood education can be more prepared to interact with adults and other children and understand what is socially appropriate in the home, classroom and public places.

Economic Benefits for the Community

According to Legal Momentum’s Family Initiative and the MIT Workplace Center, early childhood education not only directly benefits the child and immediate family, but the community at large. Children who are educated early are less likely to need special education and more likely to finish high school and go to college. All this adds to the economic vitality of the workforce and the health of the community at large. In fact, studies show that every dollar invested in early education generates $7 in the future.

Early Childhood Education Nashville