Family Resources Coordinators: The Glue in the ESIT Program!
Jamelah Grover first learned the value of having a Family Resources Coordinator (FRC) on her therapy team when her son, Chase, was enrolled in CTC’s Early Supports for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program.
“Our FRC was amazing,” she says. “She helped us understand how early support services would benefit Chase and our family. She connected me to our therapy team at CTC and made sure everything worked smoothly.”
When she was offered a job as an FRC at CTC’s Tacoma location many years later, Jamelah didn’t hesitate. “By then, I’d come to really love CTC. There’s a special culture here. Everyone cares about each other here and about the families we serve. We really are a community.”
We asked Jamelah to help shed light on the critical role of Family Resource Coordinators in supporting children with special needs:
What primary responsibilities do FRCs hold in the ESIT program?
FRCs are like the glue in the program. We function like case managers and support families while they’re enrolled in ESIT, whether for a few months or all the way up until their child turns three. We are a family’s first contact in ESIT, which is a critical time because many families are feeling scared or uncertain about their child’s diagnosis. We work with the family and the rest of the therapy team to create and document an individualized family service plan (IFSP) which is a legal document that defines the family’s goals for therapy and their rights within the program.
What are three essential qualities of an effective FRC?
- Be open minded. People come from all different walks of life and cultures and they all have different needs. One family may be struggling to find a place to live with their child, while another has a home but their child has major medical needs. And needs change all the time!
- Provide a soft place to land. Families need to feel comfortable asking us for help. They need to know there’s no judgement here, and that we understand what they are going through.
- Knowledge of federal and state program requirements. We’re here to help families become more independent and confident, and to know their rights. We help families learn to advocate for themselves and their child, particularly when it comes to school-based services. The transition away from ESIT and into the school system is a very big one. We attend meetings with them and the school district and try to make the transition as smooth and comfortable as possible. If a child needs services beyond the age of three, families love knowing that CTC provides services for kids all the way up to age 18!
Today, as an FRC Jamelah supports between 40-45 families. “Families are coming and going through the program all the time,” she says. “It’s really hard to predict how long a family will need services. Some are there for just a few months, and others stay all the way through the program until their child turns three. We’re here for as long as the child needs us.”