Samantha, Joanna, and their 2-year-old son William are clients of FSRI’s Early Intervention (EI), designed to support the development of young children by coaching families on age and developmentally appropriate activities that increase a child's motor, cognitive, and social skills. In March, when William’s parents noticed that he was not walking yet and was often frustrated, they reached out to Monique, a supervisor in FSRI’s Early Intervention program, for help.
During social isolation, all EI sessions have been over phone calls; however, Monique notes that the phone calls allow for Monique to observe impartially based on what the parents are reporting. With less interference, Monique has been able to focus on the family’s perception of a problem without directly influencing the child’s behavior.
William soon took his first steps and during their sessions together, Monique worked with William and his moms to express his emotions more positively and improve his overall communication. By seeking to understand the household and taking a holistic approach to development care, Monique’s help has been crucial to Samantha, Joanna, and William. Monique began her work with the family by first understanding the foundation created by Samantha and Joanna and then building off in an applicable way - giving the moms the tools to hold William accountable and understand his emotions in ways that work for the child and the parents. For example, before EI, if William had thrown a toy on the floor, he wouldn’t pick it up when prompted, but Monique taught Samantha and Joanna how to be firm in asking, then cleaning together and saying thank you when done. After learning and trying this technique, Joanna and Samantha found success in actively holding William accountable and teaching new behaviors like this. Personalized homework between sessions and relevant referrals are among many of the resources utilized to proactively aid in William’s development beyond the weekly sessions. Working with Monique has also given moms Samantha and Joanna the tools to encourage Will’s better behavior while upholding his dignity. Joanna and Samantha especially appreciate Monique’s flexibility in scheduling sessions into their weekly routine.
Joanna notes, “Our family’s all about human connection,” when praising the time Monique took to learn their parenting styles.
Monique adds, “I love working with families who invest themselves in the EI philosophy of family coaching. That's when the magic happens and things change for the better. Also, I know people say things like this often but in EI it is very true... I learn something important from any family I work with for any length of time. From Will's family I learned a lot about their parenting style and beliefs which helped me guide our discussions around supporting Will.”
Samantha and Joanna are extremely grateful to have Early Intervention as a part of William’s development. Even throughout the global pandemic, the tireless work put in by Monique to help William has been a phenomenal resource, and they hope the state and federal funders acknowledge the importance of Early Intervention in creating positive outcomes for RI children. Monique also credits EI due to the life-changing resources offered, such as speech, physical, or occupational therapy, that are difficult to acquire outside the program. Alongside the consistent presence EI has in the lives of children in the DCYF system, EI has provided necessities such as food and diapers to their community of families throughout the pandemic. Over the past months, every aspect of EI has been critical to Rhode Island families and children.