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Building Professional Capacity to Strengthen Parent/Professional Relationships in Early Intervention

The FAN Approach

Cosgrove, Kimberly LCSW-C; Gilkerson, Linda LSW, PhD; Leviton, Audrey LCSW-C; Mueller, Mary LCSW-C; Norris-Shortle, Carole LCSW-C; Gouvêa, Marcia MA

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000148
Original Research/Study

A strong relationship between parents and professionals is essential to successful early intervention. Yet, programs struggle to engage families in services. This article describes a successful pilot project to strengthen parent/professional relationships for families with children with disabilities living in a high-poverty urban area. Early intervention (EI) providers were trained to use the FAN (Facilitating Attuned Interactions) approach to increase their attunement to parent concerns and capacity to collaborate with parents during early intervention therapy sessions. Over the pilot project, the providers felt more empathic with parents, more collaborative, and more effective and satisfied in their roles. FAN is a promising approach and practical tool to strengthen relationships between parents and professionals in EI.

Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, Maryland (Mss Cosgrove, Leviton, and Mueller); Erikson Institute, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Gilkerson); University of Maryland, Baltimore (Ms Norris-Shortle); and Chicago, Illinois (Ms Gouvêa).

Correspondence: Linda Gilkerson, LSW, PhD, Erikson Institute, 451 N LaSalle Ave, Chicago, IL 60654 (

The authors acknowledge the providers for their openness to learning and compassion for the families and the families for their strength and devotion to their children. In addition, they thank Susan Taylor for reviewing the article and Larry Edelman for training the staff so effectively in the use of videotaping.

The project was funded by the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services, grant #154536/01. The grant recipient was PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs.

No conflicts of interest were declared by the authors.

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