NH-ME LEND Trainees Explore Family Engagement in the Development of Individualized Family Support Plans
Each year NH-ME LEND trainees participate in leadership placements in partnership with community-based organizations whose missions are aligned with the mission of the LEND program. The purpose of the leadership placement is to provide trainees with opportunities to develop and apply leadership skills and to strengthen our network by supporting the work of our partner organizations in New Hampshire and Maine.
This year trainees Meaghan Foster, family member and Michelle Long, occupational therapist worked on a collaborative research project between NH Special Medical Services and NH Family Voices. Special Medical Services (SMS), is the New Hampshire Title V Program for Children with Special Health Care Needs and administers NH Family-Centered Early Supports and Services (FCESS), NH’s Part C early intervention program. New Hampshire Family Voices provides services to families and professionals caring for children with chronic conditions and/or disabilities. NHFV empowers and informs families and professionals to feel confident when making choices. Liz Collins, RN-BC, SMS Director and Terry Ohlson-Martin, NHFV Co-Director provided guidance and mentorship on this research. This research intentionally partnered family members and professionals, both in design and implementation in order to support parent-professional partnerships and family engagement.
The purpose of the project, which focused on FCESS, was to explore what is going well in the development of Individualized Family Support Plans (IFSP), including plans for service delivery, assistance with coordinating services across agencies, and strategies for implementation in the natural environment. The overall goal of the project was to explore and enhance family engagement. Trainees assisted in the development of a data collection tool for observation of the IFSP process, then completed a total of 12 observations across 16 area agencies. As an example, two suggestions from the trainees that will improve family engagement are better explanations about the role of the family on the team and a more active attempt to draw all family members/caregivers into the conversation. The results are being analyzed and will be shared with providers and families in the coming months.