Early Childhood Intervention

A Parent to Parent Model of Service Coordination for Families of Preschool Age Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


The Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities was engaged in a three year Maternal and Child Health Bureau autism research grant from September 2011 to August 2014. The purpose of the research project was to examine the effects of a culturally compatible parent to parent model of support and service coordination for 108 families who lived in Hartford or New Britain, CT and had a preschool age child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The parents were recruited from Hartford and New Britain early childhood programs including Head Start programs and other preschool programs such as child care, and pre-K programs. They were randomly assigned to either a service coordinator group or control group (business as usual, meaning no service coordinator). The parent to parent service coordination was provided by experienced parents who lived in Hartford or New Britain, who had a child with ASD and who were culturally compatible to the target family.

The model that we used was based on service/care coordination as defined by Title V of the MCH Block Grant and Part C of the IDEA. A series of validated checklists were used by the parent service coordinators as they assisted the target families to navigate the system for their child. Outcome measures included a validated measure of family quality of life (Beach Center Family Quality of Life [FQOL]) (Hoffman, Marquis, Poston, Summers, & Turnbull, 2006), a medical home checklist, and a series of service self-reports and observations, the child's IEP, and the child's developmental and health status. Structural equation modeling was used to determine a path analysis between mediating variables and the main outcome of family qualify of life.