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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 2

Family Impact on Everyday Routines, Activities, and Places (ERAP)

baby opening cabinet Florida's Early Steps system supports services to children in "everyday routines, activities, and places." This is also known as ERAP. This terminology was adapted from the more formal federal language calling for services in "natural environments". While this has been discussed in other modules, the important concept to remember here is that, in order to provide services to children in ERAP, we need to communicate and listen to what families want as far as the routines, activities and places for interventions and services for their child. We need to ask ourselves and the families "Why is this the best routine, activity or place in which to address the intervention? What will be accomplished by providing services here? Who will provide the services (primary service provider, parents, others)? When will they occur? How will they be provided?" Whatever decision is made for ERAP, families must be involved from the beginning and all options, pros and cons discussed. If for some reason, services are not provided in ERAP (natural environments), a clear and valid justification must be provided.

Engaging Families to Learn About Their Concerns, Priorities, and Resources

The words "concerns, priorities, and resources" (CPR) are used to define the process by which information is gathered from families about what they want for their children and themselves and how professionals can help them achieve their goals. Based on identification of the CPR of the family, the team can begin to develop the outcomes, strategies, and activities on the IFSP that help families meet the needs for their child. The family is the only entity in this relationship that can identify their concerns, priorities, and resources and say what is relevant to them. A concern for a family only exists if the family itself identifies it as a concern. Their priority for their child may not be the one the professional has for the child. That is why it is crucial for professionals to engage families as partners in the process and respect their decisions.

Family Information Gathering Strategies

mother holding baby Family information gathering can be accomplished in a variety of ways (Banks, Santos, & Roof, 2003; Sandall, McLean, & Smith, 2000). The most basic (and perhaps most important) is a simple communication approach as the relationship between family and professional builds. This informal approach is fostered through conversations and sharing stories. The importance of first impressions can't be emphasized enough when we are beginning to work with families. A professional who first approaches families in a respectful manner that reflects an understanding of their culture and their situation is laying the groundwork for a strong partnership to follow. This should occur at the first visit with the family. It can take a long time to "undo" the damage made by a negative first experience between a family and a professional. Think for a minute about a negative first experience you've had with someone. Did it take you long to change that original viewpoint? Have you changed it at all?

It is much easier to work toward creating a positive first experience with families than having to spend a lot of time afterwards correcting negative impressions. The personal style of the professional should enable him/her to develop patience and act non-judgmentally with families. Remember to share power with the family. Let them do the talking. Focus on strengths and successes. Approach families from the perspective of wanting to understand what is important to them. Begin the journey with them by sharing information with them that will allow them to become knowledgeable decision-makers on the team. Share information about yourself to show your willingness to form an equal partnership.

In Lesson 5, we'll talk about the use of information gathering strategies such as, observations and surveys to illicit information from families when determining functional outcomes on the IFSP.

 

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