A day in the life of a service coordinator: Jenni arrives at work early to prepare for an initial assessment, making sure the paperwork is ready in case an IFSP Three Women Meetingis developed too. After the 2-hour assessment and IFSP meeting, she drives 40 minutes to her next visit with a family and their OT. The visits runs long as the family requests assistance with groceries to get them through the end of the month. Since they have no family nearby, Jenni offers to search for some resources and call the mother later. After a quick lunch in the car, Jenni heads back to the office where she finds 3 voicemail messages from a family and two service providers requesting IFSP meetings to review outcomes. She writes contact notes for the morning’s activities, returns the calls, makes an additional call to a family for her monthly contact, and does some research on local food pantries. She also sends the IFSP developed that morning to the physician and service provider agency so that the child’s speech therapy will start soon. In the midst of her busy day, she also receives two new referrals and is able to reach one of them to schedule an intake visit for next week. Before she leaves for the day, she calls the family she saw that morning with a list of phone numbers for local food pantries and promises to touch base with the family again tomorrow to see if they are able to find the help they need.

Whew! What a day, huh?

Service Coordination is Multi-Faceted

While not every day is like this, service coordinators are generally busy people. They have many roles they play including leader of the IFSP team. In some programs, they work in dual roles as both service providers (like educators or therapists) and service coordinators. They work with many different kinds of families, with service providers from different backgrounds, and within systems that have varying requirements for documentation, billing, team functioning, etc. They must be experts on the EI process and how to adapt it for each family. They must know community resources and how to help families access them. They need to plan their time efficiently for office time, travel, and visits with children and families. While juggling all of these realities, they must also be able to build strong, sensitive relationships with families and providers so that IFSPs are implemented in ways that meet the changing needs of children and families. It’s a multi-faceted job that requires a great deal of knowledge and skill!

It’s BOTH Wonderful & Challenging

When I think about being a service coordinator, I remember finding the job to be both wonderful and challenging, sometimes in the same day!  On the wonderrful side of things, here’s what I loved:

Building relationships with families that helped them grow – Service coordinators may not seem like teachers but they are. They help families learn skills like advocacy and how to find resources that families can use long after they leave the EI program.

No two days were ever the same – Everyday is different with new opportunities to see a child master a new milestone, help a parent achieve a goal, or help a team solve a problem.

Working with a team that focused on the child’s & family’s success – There was nothing better than observing and celebrating a child’s progress as a team (which of course included the family). Each of us played a part in something that could have a long-term impact on the child’s life and that was powerful.

Of course, there were challenges too. Sometimes the number of families I supported overwhelmed me or the resources I wished I had in my community just weren’t there. On other days, managing the paperwork or traveling a long distance to see a family who was not home were not my favorite parts of the job. Every job has it’s challenges, though. When the challenges got to me, I’d try to focus on the many positives, like the card I’d received from a family thanking me for my time with them or the picture another family sent me of their son on his first day of preschool. I knew I’d made a difference.

What do you like most about being a service coordinator? What do you find most challenging and why?

For more information about service coordination, visit the Service Coordination page on the VA Early Intervention Professional Development Center.

41 comments on “Service Coordination is Both Wonderful & Challenging!

  • Diana Cañas says:

    Good afternoon,

    That does sound like a busy day but she is doing so much good! Being a service coordinator seems to be a job for a caring and patient person. It requires a lot of time management and organization. I think what I would like the most about it is the aspect of helping families and their children. What I would find the most challenging is finding enough time in a day to help everyone. I worry i would take on too much.

    Thank you for all you do!

    Reply
  • Diana Panameno says:

    What I like the most about a service coordinator is the positive impact that is made on the family unit. Through their knowledge, hands-on approach, and willingness to help children and their family’s, the service coordinators are giving the family’s the resources and tools that allows them to support their children in ways that they may have not deemed possible. So, I like that through their services the service coordinators are increasing the parents and family’s confidence in their ability to care for their children on a day-to-day basis. Since this is a multi-faceted job, I believe that the most challenging thing for service coordinators would be making time for themselves while being part of a job that demands so much of their personal time to provide the best information, skills, and outcomes for the child’s and family’s best interest.

    Reply
  • Jenieve Chapa says:

    I am amazed at a service coordinators ability to multitask and fulfill several commitments they made. If I were to become a service coordinator, I believe the thing I would enjoy/love the most is the impact I know I am making on the child and family’s life. Additionally, I would enjoy the fact that each day is different, and everyday is a new opportunity to work on something new or learn something new. However, I do think it be easy to become overwhelmed. So personally, I would have challenges juggling my time and learning to prioritize each task as they come.

    Reply
    • I think the fact that you are aware of what your possible challenges may be would help you get off to the right start. Seeking out more experienced SCs who have time managmenent systems in place and who can give you ideas for how to prioritize is always a great way to begin.

      Reply
  • Cameron Kuehn says:

    I think that what I would like most about being a service coordinator would be the opportunity to positively impact families and children. To be able to observe the child grow each week and accomplish new things just seems like such a rewarding experience. I think the most challenging part of being a service coordinator would be leaving the family once your services are no longer needed. You spend so much time with the family that it seems very hard to not become attached.

    Reply
  • Hannah Fiske says:

    Although I am not a service coordinator and am only a student taking an Introduction to Childhood Interventions course, I believe there are several beauties of being a service coordinator from what I have learned. Service Coordinators have multiple roles; they are not just limited to performing one task. Instead, they have to be there for the family, listen to family issues, and allow them to grow. Building such strong relationships that help guide the child towards future success is the most rewarding. Watching the child’s successes, I imagine, is an incredibly satisfying feeling. The most challenging thing about being a service coordinator is that it is overwhelming because multiple families need much attention. Because ECI caters to the family, the service coordinator must go above and beyond to assist the family. Therefore, that can be taxing on the service coordinator always to be available.

    Reply
  • Kirsten Ellis says:

    I am currently not a Service Coordinator but after graduating in May I hope to start working as one back in my hometown. I find this position and work appealing and eye-opening. It allows the opportunity to help a family that is in need of such services but also gives the Service Coordinator the chance to build strong connections with the family and the child. I have always wanted to work with children and for the longest time I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician. However, I have recently realized that that path is not where my heart lies. I enjoy the time I spend with the children at a Child Development Center that I currently work at. While I will not necessarily be in a school setting in the future, I think this position would still allow me to be a teacher and role model for children in a capacity that is rewarding.

    Reply
  • Sophie says:

    Thank you so much for this blog post as it is an in-depth look into the everyday life of a service coordinator with both the highs and the lows. Something that excites me about hopefully being a service coordinator one day is how each day is different. I would love to be able to help underserved families find the resources they need to help their child reach their goals (whether it is a suitable speech therapist or formula). I look forward to building relationships with the family members and being someone who the parents feel comfortable to call at any time with their questions and concerns!

    Reply
  • Camila Martinez says:

    I think that what I would like the most about being a Service coordinator would obviously be able to help families that might be feeling lost and isolated, also the fact that you have to be very versatile and have to be able to not only work with a lot of different families but also with a lot of different providers and you get to experience a little bit of all aspects.
    The most challenging thing would be how busy it must be, as well as remaining judgement free and capable of helping their families not only set realistic goals but to reach them as well. There is also a lot of pressure because for a lot of families this might be their only hope.

    Reply
  • Sara Falberg says:

    Hi Dana,
    Thanks so much for sharing a typical day of a service coordinator, even though there’s no guarantee what each day will bring! While reading your blog post, it seems that as the day goes on, more and more challenges arise. It seems quite difficult to manage and remember each responsibility, does keeping a planner help with this? I would assume the most challenging aspect of this job is trying to best accommodate each family’s needs because no two families are the same. I am sure with all of these tasks at the hand of the service coordinator, one must be very clear headed and determined to find the most helpful solutions!
    Best,
    Sara Falberg

    Reply
  • Travon Brooks says:

    For me, the most compelling part of the job would be the satisfaction of helping families through what can be an overwhelming situation. The fulfillment of being able to make a difference in the lives of countless children would be what makes the day-to-day worthwhile. The challenge for me would be the fact that you wouldn’t be able to satisfy the needs of all when they need it. I’d assume you’d have to prioritize tasks based off of a myriad of reasons. There would also be this sense that you’d always be doing something. This role seems as though the work never stops which can be overwhelming without work-life balance.

    Reply
  • Chiamaka Molokwu says:

    I think being a service coordinator can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. You are making an impact on families’ lives and helping those who need it. It’s like an adventure every day and you never know what’s going to happen the following day. That being said, not knowing what to expect can also be a hassle. Therefore, it is important to be adaptable and quick-witted as a service coordinator. I think paying attention to detail is important as you will likely be working with many different families and with lots of information-filled paperwork. It can be easy to try and rush through things but knowing that you are dealing with people’s lives can help to keep you grounded.

    Reply
  • Maria Briones says:

    Being a service coordinator seems really challenging, but it also seems to be so worthwhile. Every day is a learning experience not just for the child and the families but for the service coordinator as well. I think working with children and being able to see their potential and how they progress is so fulfilling and amazing. It is important for the service coordinator to separate their work life from their work life, and they should take breaks when necessary. When working in service job like this, it is important to take care of yourself in order to be able to help others as best as you can.

    Reply
  • Yukta S says:

    I think the thing about service coordinators that amazes me the most is how diverse their jobs and tasks can be. As the post mentions, they have the responsibility of meeting with families, finding different resources and needs for the families, and collaborating with other intervention specialists! It seems like the job never gets boring, and I think that will keep me on my toes if I were to become a service coordinator. I think one challenge might be being able to juggle all of those various tasks and responsibilities, but I guess that just makes organization that much more important!

    Reply
  • Tamanna Kaur says:

    What do you like most about being a service coordinator? What do you find most challenging and why?

    Although I am not a service coordinator, I imagine it being a very rewarding experience. To be able to work with a family and help them with deciding services that would be best for their family. Also it would be such a fulfilling experience to help with educating the family on the opportunities that are not always general knowledge to the public.

    I believe the most challenging part would be the amount of effort and time it would take to do the job right. This would be time-consuming and emotionally draining.

    Reply
  • Chibuzo Igweh says:

    My favorite thing about being a service provider would be the fact that I get to help a parent gain the confidence that they need to know that they can provide their child with quality care on their own. I feel like the most challenging thing would be building a safe environment for parent’s to trust me with all their worries. It is not easy to gain someones trust.

    Reply
  • Victoria Garfinkel says:

    Hi Dana,

    I enjoyed reading your blog post. I liked the comment about how service coordinators are teachers in some way as they bolster learning and relationships. The discussion about the challenges of being a service coordinator I found to be interesting. It does seem like it would be overwhelming with all of the cases and different families that one must deal with but how you focus on the positive aspect is a great insight. The thought of thinking how helpful you are to the families must make it all worth it. I would like most helping the families and thinking about how I can change their Child’s development. I could also help the parent gain confidence in their abilities to help their child. The challenges would be juggling all of the cases and different families that require different needs. However, the experience of meeting them would balance the struggle.

    Reply
  • Arielle Lutfak says:

    If I were a service coordinator, I think the thing I would find most rewarding is knowing that my work could potentially change the way a family and child interact/grow for the better. Being able to see the child and family progress would be an amazing opportunity and be so fulfilling. The most challenging aspect for me would likely be not getting too attached to the families; I think I would become overwhelmed and would have to work hard to not emotionally burn myself out.

    Reply
  • Nicolas Ballivian says:

    What I would like the most about being a service coordinator based on what I have learned is the ability to help multiple families progress in their lives. Being able to establish relationships with these people truly helps with their overall development, and is beneficial to both the service coordinator and the family in need. What I would personally find challenging about being a service coordinator would be finding the resources in the community that are specific to the needs of the family. I believe that in order to address the needs of the family as best as possible I would have to take every resource into account, because not being able to provide the right resources can be detrimental to the overall growth and health of the family. My goal as a service coordinator would be to leave the families equipped and familiar with every resource at their disposal in their communities that meet their needs,

    Reply
    • Yes, identifying resources and helping families access them is such an important part of the ongoing work of service coordination. Ultimately, a SC wants to help families learn to find the resources themselves so they know what to do when they need something. This is especially important because children and families are only in EI for a short amount of time!

      Reply
  • Kambry Russell says:

    I believe that as a service coordinator I would most enjoy the rewards of getting to see a child and family get better. Watching the child heal and cope better, as well as watching the family members learn how to handle their child’s condition better would be wonderful. It would also be great to see how happy the family members are when new milestones are reached and watching their child improve over time. I think that I would struggle with how busy my days would be though. I am not good at multitasking, and it seems like a position as a service coordinator would require a lot of that. I would definitely need to keep a to-do list and a calendar in order to remember all of the things I have to do. Otherwise, they would just get lost in my mind, and I would miss a lot of tasks.

    Reply
  • Estefany Mora says:

    I think what I would enjoy the most about being a service coordinator is establishing relationships with the clients and working together towards achieving a goal. The idea of helping someone and working together in order to obtain better resources and provide a better life excites me. I believe seeing the family’s growth would inspire me to keep going until they achieve their goals. The most challenging part would be maintaining a schedule to get everything done. It seems as a service coordinator one has to juggle several things a day as well as new tasks that come about during the day. Maintaining a work plan and schedule that allows me to get all the things done in a well and efficient manner would be the most challenging thing.

    Reply
  • Miki Haruki says:

    As a service coordinator, I believe it would be the most rewarding for me to be able to see the progress a child is making as well as their family. I would enjoy getting feedback from the family and working with them to make the IFSP better and better until it is a good fit for both the child and the family. However, it does seem very challenging if a resource I need access to was not available in my community or it may be a little overwhelming at times to keep track of all the different IFSP plans for various families.

    Reply
  • Leslie Nguyen says:

    Hello! Wow, she seems to have very busy days but she is making such a positive impact. Being a service coordinator seems to be a job for caring and patient individuals. The position seems to take up lot of time and requires the person to time manage well and be organized. From my point of view, I think as a service coordinator, I would enjoy the interacts with different families and being able to help them in any way I can. What I would find the most challenging is finding enough time in a day to help everyone and to make sure you are not prioritzing the needs of one family over another.

    Reply
  • Cameron C. says:

    If I were a service coordinator, the most rewarding part would be the lives I would impact and the families I would be able to serve. Although being a service coordinator would have its busy days, knowing that I would be able to help families and make a positive impact on their lives is all I would need to keep going. The thing I would find most challenging is prioritizing my time and keeping my day organized, but with efficient planning I could overcome this challenge!

    Reply
  • Marlene Huerta says:

    From what I have learned and read, I think what I would like the most about being a service coordinator would be building relationships with the family and watching the progress that they make together. Celebrating the success of the family seems like an extremely joyful thing once you become very close and spend a lot of time with them. What I would find the most challenging is definitely keeping up with the paperwork, like Jenni mentioned. I feel like it is very challenging to keep up with all the paperwork when your week already consists of so many activities or visits, which means that an agenda would be very necessary for me!

    Reply
  • Sahithi Kasa says:

    What do you like most about being a service coordinator? What do you find most challenging and why?

    I think what I would like most about being a service coordinator is having the ability to have a lasting impact on children and their families in a way that will help them not only in the present but also in the future. I also would like building a relationship with the family and helping them in encouraging their child’s success. I think what I would find most challenging is finding a way to manage all of my responsibilities and finding ways to effectively communicate with each child and family because every family is unique.

    Reply
  • Grace Blumenfeld says:

    A career as a service coordinator seems extremely exciting! This occupation would be great for those who desire to work with people, make a difference in others’ lives, and be challenged on a regular basis. In fact, this is the exact opposite of a typical desk job. I think it’s especially interesting that even though service coordinators may work with the same family for months, the child and family goals are changing throughout the experience. As a service coordinator I would enjoy the fact that each day is never the same. I’d appreciate a career that challenges me with goals that make a true impact. I would find paperwork the most difficult part of the job as I enjoy interacting with others over tasks where I’d have to sit down and focus for a long time.

    Reply
  • Alejandra Rubio says:

    I think what I would like most about being a service coordinator is to be able to connect and communicate with families. Helping families would be very rewarding. I would find preparing paperwork and looking for resources to be difficult. I would want to provide the best resources so I would have a hard time deciding what the best option would be.

    Reply
  • John B says:

    This post provided great insight into a typical day for a service coordinator. This seems like a dynamic job that requires a lot of patience and endurance. However, as the author pointed out it also sounds incredibly rewarding. Regardless, healthy boundaries seem important to ensure coordinators are not emotionally strained and compartmentalize work from life. This post definitely gave me a more realistic understanding of what an actual day might look like if I were to pursue this profession.

    Reply
  • Claire Eckardt says:

    The insights in this post were extremely informative as to what to expect as a service coordinator. The aspects that most appeal to me are the ability to work directly with families to help them develop and meet their goals, as well as the variety of day-to-day experiences. However, I can see how the risk of burnout and compassion fatigue can run high when working with populations who may be struggling.

    Reply
  • Mac Clapper says:

    I think some of the more positive aspects of being a service coordinator are listed in the post. Helping a family grow and be successful is so rewarding. Additionally, I think it’s incredibly important. The service providers don’t just help, but can actively guide the family away from negative actions and towards positive parenting. In the same sense, being a service coordinator can be very taxing. Having a large caseload, with individually unique families, can be a lot for one person to handle.

    Reply
  • Madison K says:

    I think being a service coordinator would be a very fulfilling and meaningful job. You get to positively impact so many children and their families on a day to day basis. What I would find most enjoyable if I were a service coordinator is the hands-on aspect. You get to interact with these families and really see the growth a child has made first-hand. The most challenging part for me would be staying organized and making sure every child/family has an individualized plan catering to their needs.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Castillo says:

    What I like the most about the service coordinator is the huge involvement they have with the child and their families, it’s like they’re always there making sure that the child’s needs and parent’s needs are fulfilled. I’m also sure that it must be an amazing feeling watching the progress these children and their families have done. I would say that it seems very challenging to be able to multitask as a service coordinator.

    Reply
  • Kameron O says:

    What do you like most about being a service coordinator? What do you find most challenging and why?

    I think that in the future, the thing I would like most about being a service coordinator would be interacting with the families. I think that learning what makes every family unique would just be really interesting. To me, I imagine the most challenging part would be to work with a family that does feel empowered to make decisions. I imagine it might be difficult to hear about the support their child would need, so to work with a family who doesn’t want to make their own decisions seems difficult.

    Reply
  • Supriya Anand says:

    If I were a service provider, I would like the fact that you are building relationships by working with families and improving the strategies they implement in their homes. I also like the fact that they have to apply strategies according the family’s needs so problem solving is definitely a skill they would have to keep up with. I also believe that it is rewarding to help families and their children meet their ultimate goals.

    Reply
  • Karen Gonzalez says:

    Although I am not a service coordinator, I think being able to help families and their children is one of the most rewarding experiences of being one. Service coordinators help families learn skills like advocacy and help them find resources that will serve them in the long run. Every day seems like a learning experience and you are able to establish long-lasting relationships with different kinds of families. You are helping both parents and children achieve goals and reach new milestones. I think some of the most challenging aspects of being a service coordinator would be time management and availability. Of course as a service coordinator your job is to keep the family’s interest a priority and address their concerns and needs, but that could become difficult when trying to assess multiple family’s needs along with your own individual needs. I also think that after spending a significant amount of time with families and creating these important relationships with them would make it difficult to not get attached.

    Reply
  • Yingying Zhen says:

    If I am a service coordinator, I would love the aspect of making a positive impact on a child’s life and making their parent’s life easier, even just a little. I would think the most challenging part would be time management and still have a life outside of work.

    Reply

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