Family Centered Early Supports & Services: Where It All Begins

We are introduced to many of the individuals and families we serve through our Family Centered Early Supports & Services department. ESS Coordinator Tammy Dudal said, “Family Centered Early Supports & Services leads a transdisciplinary model to engage families in their child’s growth through parent coaching, which is a strong evidence-based model for working with children from birth to age three.” 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Tammy has continued to speak to parents/guardians over the phone to learn more about the child who will then be evaluated by either Easter Seals or Children’s Pyramid, our two providers. 

The biggest change for Tammy has been completing intakes remotely. The providers she works with have also been remote at times when the number of COVID-19 cases in our state have risen. Tammy said, “Easter Seals and Children’s Pyramid have been doing an extraordinary job with making Telehealth work for families we serve”. She said Telehealth has been effective for many families and they have continued to receive the information and professional input they did prior to the pandemic. 

Tammy believes a major reason families have continued to receive the support they deserve is because of the conversations she has with Easter Seals, Children’s Pyramid, and Early Supports & Services Directors from other area agencies. She communicates through a Zoom call with them once a week. This allows people to share some of the concerns people have, strategies that best lead to helping families, and helpful resources. “Pre-pandemic the ESS Directors and providers met quarterly but last spring we began to meet weekly,” Tammy said. 

While the number of intakes completed in 2020 was slightly lower than those completed in 2019, it is clear that families are continuing to seek out resources and want to have their child evaluated. 

Directors have mentioned a concern some parents are having is the lack of socialization their child has gotten throughout the past year. By not playing with other kids or seeing many family members, parents are worried their child will be further delayed. This time can also be challenging for daycares because they aren’t able to see the parents face-to-face.

The Merrimack Quilt Club and Atkinson Library have continued to create homemade blankets and quilts during this time. Tammy said, “I so very much appreciate these volunteers that continue to support our families with children that spend extensive time in the hospital”. These volunteers, along with the providers help ease some of the emotions families are feeling during this time. 

Tammy said she is glad that because of regularly communicating with providers and directors at other area agencies, families have received the care they need. 

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