Planning and Documentation



First Meeting with Family

Our first opportunity to intervene is in the first meeting, as we are learning about a child from the family. When a family walks in with a child, take time to really connect with them and their child. Comment on the child’s clothes, smile, beautiful little fingers – whatever truly strikes you as lovely. Especially when the child is young and the families are in the process of discovery of all that is wrong, it is very supportive for them to see a professional who connects with the child as a person before even asking about concerns, reports or impairment.

As an intervener, you would like to know about the birth history, the details of medical examinations and treatment and the developmental history. You would need to learn about family concerns and priorities as well as details about their routines, resources and needs. Rather than following a prepared list of questions, engage the families in conversation, keeping quick notes under the different main headings as the information comes out from their stories. Although this seems disorganized, it is actually very effective because:

  1. The family will relax and see you as someone who cares about them as well as their child.
  2. You will learn unexpected things that you would have never thought to ask about.
  3. You will get information about attitudes and beliefs held by the members of the family.

Throughout the conversation, ensure that you follow the principles of “active listening” where you are really paying attention, respecting their opinion, however bizarre, and encouraging their conversation. The points in the Caregiver Meeting Quality Indicator form will help you keep the key elements of active listening in mind.

You may move on from a conversation with the families to a direct interaction with the child. At all times, creating a relationship with the child is the first step and of paramount importance. If it looks as if this may not seem possible in this visit, have the parent or someone familiar with the child play under your guidance and make your observations. Make sure to talk about some of the positive things that you are seeing and when mentioning an area of concern, always talk also about what can be done.

Parents must leave this first conversation feeling that their concerns have been heard and understood and their needs respected. They must also leave understanding something more about their child, the belief that something can change, that they can be a part of how that change is brought about and with at least one strategy to help their child. This may seem impossible, but a good intervener who has listened and observed well can certainly use their own experience and knowledge to provide families with at least one small thing that will address a problem faced by the child or family.

At the end of the conversation, ensure that you thank parents or comment on their ideas and statements so they realize that their sharing has helped you understand the child better and get ideas that may be helpful in supporting the child’s development and learning. Include new information in the child’s file and intervention plan as appropriate.


First Meeting with Child

Observe the child even when you are talking with the family. You can learn so many things, just by observation. You can see the body posture, what the child seems interested in, what they are doing while the family is talking with you. Notice if the child is tense or relaxed and try to judge if the child will accept you even though this is the first meeting. If you are unable to quickly create a rapport with the child, guide the caregiver through the interactions you want to observe. 
Remember that your first interactions with the child should be positive and allow you to lay the foundation of a trusting relationship. Your focus and energy should be on connecting with the child rather than getting the child to obey you and perform various tasks. Remember your interaction is the first lesson to the caregivers on how to enable children to engage, to interact and to use their own capacity to do something.  

Moving Forward with Family & Child

The Child Entry Form should be filled for EVERY child that comes to the center. If you don’t have time for a detailed assessment, and are not sure where to begin, use the Physical and Social Milestone Charts or the Developmental Circle pages within the age group of the child to help you make a beginning. Remember, every family must leave with at least one concrete, viable suggestion for something they can do right away to help their child.   
The Child Assessment Profile (sample case study with goals and sample assessment chart) along with the manual will help get more detailed information on child and family, and more importantly, help you organize the information in a way that helps you keep the whole child, family, and their opportunities for learning and development in mind. After the first visit, you must begin to fill in the Child Assessment Profile and can add details over the next few visits. 
Once you have set Child goals, re-assess and record using the Child Follow-Up Form every 3 months. This will force you to stop, re-evaluate, consider new issues, strengths and resources that may have emerged and remind you to adjust your plan accordingly. 
In early intervention, enabling families is a major component of your responsibilities and a major strategy for intervening with a child. We recognize that in changing the attitude, knowledge and skills of families, we are providing children with the foundation of consistent and strong learning opportunities for the rest of their lives. 
The Caregiver Support Form allows you to document areas where you may want provide support to families and should be filled before you finalize the intervention plan. Caregiver training will be an important part of your intervention and you can use this form along with the parent priorities and concerns to help you decide what you will address and how best to do it. 
After about a year of intervention, you may want to do a comprehensive review and planning process.