Social Workers’ Roles in Early Intervention


As part of our series of stories on different members of early intervention teams, we asked a number of licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) about their work with families in early intervention (EI). Below are some of their responses.

  • “Social workers are members of the EI team who can support and assist in so many different ways with our EI families and can also provide therapeutic support within the home setting. Social workers address the emotional and behavioral challenges that often coexist with other developmental challenges a child and family might be experiencing. Social workers also provide clinical therapy and support for children and families who have been impacted by any kind of trauma or mental illness, and we also provide advocacy and support in connecting children and families to resources that might provide further support in their community.” — Angie Pitsenberger
  • “A social worker generally comes from a systems approach, which takes into account many areas of the child. When I do an assessment I look at the family’s resources (emotional, financial, spiritual, supportive), education, health, mental health, housing, lifestyle, etc., to determine what help they might need.” — Peggy Vorona
  • A social worker “is a vital member of the early intervention team who participates in the development of the individualized family service plan (IFSP) and collaborates with other EI disciplines and the family in the implementation of identified strategies. As a specialist in the social and emotional domains, an LCSW provides family training, education and support to help families and team members understand and respond to the special needs of the child and family and support the development of family relationships and routines.” — Rekha Murthy
  • “Social workers have expertise to address the risk factors that, separately from developmental delays, make children eligible for early intervention services, including parental mental illness or substance abuse or parents who are very young. Also, families who receive early intervention services may also be impacted by trauma such as domestic violence or violence in the community, and social workers can help support and strengthen child-parent relationships that can be challenged by trauma.” — Kate Goetz
  • “Social workers join families on their journey and help families manage the stress in their lives. We establish a trusting relationship with families and meet them where they are in their journey. We use a strengths-based approach to build the family’s coping skills and view of their child and his/her development. We assess the need for outside services and resources and provide the follow through to ensure that these connections are made. We assist parents in working on specific behaviors that are a concern and within daily routines that are currently stressful for families. These could include sleep difficulties, mealtime difficulties, aggressive behavior, and difficulty behaving outside of the home in their local community (park, stores, restaurants).” — Lynn Sloyan
Publication date: 2019
Originally published in the EIC Newsletter: Volume 31, Issue 4