Thanks to a grant from the Centre County United Way, Strawberry Fields has adopted an innovative and research-based Early Intervention therapeutic model called Family Guided Routines Based Intervention (FGRBI), also known as caregiver coaching. Within this model, Early Interventionists seek to equip caregivers of children with developmental delays to take the lead in supporting their kids to meet milestones, all within the family’s daily routines.
"Our commitment to excellence in early intervention services led us to embrace the caregiver coaching model," shares Annie Smith, DPT, Director of Early Intervention at Strawberry Fields. "Investing in Melissa and our other specialists demonstrates our dedication to providing leading-edge services. This model not only enhances the skills of our professionals but, more importantly, empowers families to be active participants in their child's development, ensuring long-term positive outcomes. We are proud to lead the way in this approach in Centre County and Pennsylvania."
Pennsylvania's caregiving coaching initiative prioritizes evidence-based, individualized therapy that targets functional and meaningful outcomes for families raising children with developmental needs. A central objective is to train and endorse Early Intervention practitioners across the Commonwealth in this approach.
Spearheading this remarkable initiative is Melissa Gentner, MS, CCC-SLP, a therapist at Strawberry Fields and one of only four Master Coaches in Pennsylvania certified to train providers in the FGRBI approach. Gentner's unwavering dedication and deep expertise are crucial to this initiative's success. Under her guidance, Strawberry Fields' therapists have not only achieved fidelity and earned the title of "endorsed coach," but Gentner has also been a key force in advancing this approach throughout the state. Significantly, 10% of all endorsed therapists in Pennsylvania are from Strawberry Fields, Inc., highlighting our steadfast commitment to offering advanced training, education, and maintaining excellence in our programs.
“Caregiver coaching has revolutionized how we engage with families. When we operate on the premise that families have what it takes to support their children to make developmental gains with guidance from us, they rise to the challenge and surprise us with the creative and unique ways they find to practice skills in their everyday settings and routines,” shares Gentner.
One Early Intervention family exemplifies the long-term benefits of caregiver coaching. After her daughter started at a preschool program, the mother recounted how she confidently communicated with preschool staff to collaborate and ensure that the learning environment would be ideal for her child. The coaching approach equipped her to be an advocate for many years to come.
At Strawberry Fields, our dedicated team of pediatric speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and developmental teachers, remains committed to providing outstanding Early Intervention services. Twelve of our providers are endorsed caregiver coaches, an additional certification above their discipline's licensure requirements. Our embrace of caregiver coaching signifies our commitment to empowering families, enriching the lives of those we serve, and paving the way for a brighter future for children with developmental needs.
To learn more about Strawberry Fields' Early Intervention program and caregiver coaching, visit their website at sfionline.org/earlyintervention.