Family-Centered Practices 

Embedded Coaching

Embedded Coaching integrates evidence-based, family-centered best practices into early intervention services. The goal is to enhance children’s development within the context of their daily routines through collaboration with families. By exchanging information and feedback with their EI team, families learn new ways to support their child’s learning.

Family-centered best practices and providing services in natural environments are recommended by professional associations. Across the country, they are also called: Activity-Based; Participation-Based; Routines-Based; and Learning Opportunities. In NYC, they are called Embedded Coaching.

  • LEICC presentation (PDF – 7/13/2010) for summaries of evidence-based, effective practices and related citations.
  • Implementing Family-Centered Practices - Five Learning Modules for Staff Development
  • If you have questions about family-centered practices or Embedded Coaching, please email

Embedded Coaching is composed of two main elements

  • Embedded Interventions : Interventionists collaborate with families to find ways to support their children’s functioning in routine activities, respecting the family’s style and culture. This is achieved by using information:
    • From ongoing observations of routines and conversations with the family;
    • About the child’s and family’s capacities, interests and strengths; and
    • About the family’s goals, concerns, priorities, resources and routine activities.
  • Collaborative Coaching : Interventionists observe, coach, and provide feedback to families to:
    • Support them in learning new ways to support their children’s development throughout the day during family routines; and
    • Enhance family competence and confidence in helping their children learn.

On-going communication and collaboration among EI team members and the family is essential in providing families with cohesive clinical support whether children receive services at home, a center-based program, a facility, or day care.

Why routine activities?

  • IDEA Part C is the federal law that requires EI services to be provided in natural environments and routine activities.
  • The family’s routine activities provide many natural opportunities for children to practice new skills in different contexts. By using routines, children’s learning is enhanced between sessions.
  • Children need to be engaged and actively participate in their learning activities. Children learn skills better in the situations where they are going to use them.
  • Families do not have to set aside a special time to practice since routine activities occur naturally throughout the day and week.

Families do not replace therapists. When families incorporate these strategies into their routines, they expand their ability to support their child’s development. At the same time, they enhance and expand the work of the interventionists. One of the eight federal outcomes for the Early Intervention Program is to enhance families’ capacity to support their children’s learning and development.

Aspects of the Embedded Coaching Approach