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Children’s Hospital Challenges ‘Early Steps’ Decision

Gavel and a stethoscope
Flickr Creative

A Miami children's hospital that has long led the state's Early Steps program in part of South Florida is challenging a decision to shift the contract to another provider.

The challenge, filed by Nicklaus Children's Hospital against the Florida Department of Health, was sent Wednesday to the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

The Early Steps program provides early intervention services for families who have infants or toddlers with developmental disabilities or other developmental issues. Nicklaus Children's Hospital said in the challenge that it has served for 17 years as the “lead agency” for the program in a region that includes part of Miami-Dade County and Monroe County.

The department issued what is known as a “request for proposals” this year and decided to award the contract to another bidder, Benchmark Human Services. The challenge raises numerous objections and contends Nicklaus Children's Hospital should receive the contract.

“The arbitrary, capricious, and illegal nature in which NCH (Nicklaus) was scored and in which the contract award was selected will not only cause NCH to lose this contract, but will also deprive the department, the state, and the taxpayers of a much more qualified and responsive candidate than the one selected,” the challenge said.