Helping children and adolescents with developmental delays reach their potential.

“You need to be commended for saving Part C and the work you did for the respite issue. You did not only do this for CDC, but for the whole community and state.”

~ Accreditation Quote

What is a Family Support Specialist?

The Family Support Specialist (FSS) is not a therapist, rather a coach, who supports parents in learning to promote their child’s developmental well-being. Their position requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in child development, elementary or special education, or a related field. Further, the State of Montana requires that they become certified as a Family Support Specialist. This certification requires them to demonstrate the following skills which they can use to support the family in addressing their concerns and priorities:

  • assessing child development in partnership with families
  • developing a plan which outlines and addresses families’ concerns and priorities
  • identifying services and supports that benefit the child’s development
  • developing teaching strategies for families that they can implement during the natural routines of the day (bath time, bedtime, playtime, mealtime)
  • developing strategies to address challenges (behavioral, sleeping, eating)
  • directing families to resources on topics of interest (literature, video tapes, special equipment, names of people to contact)
  • accessing services for children and families (Medicaid, school services, therapies, medical services, community programs)
  • providing emotional support to families

Further, they are knowledgeable on a variety of topics as they relate to children with challenges in development. If they don’t have the knowledge, they will make every effort to find it. Some of the areas they have information about include:

  • Infant and Toddler development
  • Parenting tips for dealing with challenging behaviors
  • Assistive technology (e.g., specialized equipment, communication devices)
  • Specific disabilities and syndromes
  • Sensory challenges and intervention strategies
  • Working together as a team
  • Advocating for the child