Each child grows and learns in his or her own way, and some face more challenges than others.
Your Questions, Answered
If you have questions or concerns about how your baby is growing and developing, our staff can help you find answers while offering you the support you need. We serve families with children from birth to age 3.
- Does something seem off – or different – to you about your baby’s development?
- Is your child slower than others her age to sit or crawl?
- Is she not yet speaking like her peers?
- Does he have trouble holding or using objects?
- Does she have stiff limbs or low muscle tone?
Depending on the needs of each child and family, we offer our services in homes, at childcare centers, or via telehealth.
Kaya was a bright, responsive baby who just wasn’t crawling like others her age. A thorough assessment by the REACH team, and a diagnostic work-up by medical specialists, identified a more complex challenge. Thanks to early intervention, Kaya is now thriving in school.
Our coordinated services – which often include physical, occupational and/or speech therapy – are provided through family home visits and daycare settings. Our experienced staff conduct individualized developmental evaluations and create care plans for each child’s unique needs.
Step-by-Step: The Early Intervention Process
A parent, childcare provider, or health professional wonders about a child’s development or notices some specific delays. A doctor or nurse may observe during an office visit that the child is not developing at the usual rate for children his or her age. Or a parent or caregiver may notice that something doesn’t seem quite right – the child is not yet sitting upright or crawling, does not make eye contact, has a noticeable tilt to the head, is easily upset, or is not yet speaking or communicating.
The parent or provider makes a referral for Early Intervention. REACH Early Intervention Program can accept referrals from physicians, hospitals, daycare centers, and parents or guardians of infants and toddlers from birth to age 3. Referral is made over the phone (413-665-8717), via FAX (413-665-9383), or through our website www.servicenet.org/REACH. As soon as we connect with the family, we call to begin gathering some basic information and to schedule a meeting in the family home, usually within two weeks.
REACH Early Intervention professionals come to the family home. In the safety and privacy of your home, we will talk with you to gather important information about your child, your concerns, and your family. A team of three staff will then assess your child using a standardized instrument called the Battelle Developmental Inventory 2©, which measures the child’s cognitive, social-emotional, adaptive, motor, and speech-language development. The whole meeting takes about two hours, and at the end of it we will know if your child is eligible for services. Our REACH staff will explain what we see and will answer questions you may have about your child’s development.
If the child is eligible, and the family is interested in services, REACH Early Intervention develops a Family Service Plan. This plan is developed with the parents or guardians to address both the child’s developmental needs and other concerns the family may have. A team of specialists is then assembled to provide services in the family home, or perhaps in the daycare center the child attends. This team may include a Developmental Specialist, Speech Language Pathologist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Registered Nurse, and/or Social Worker.
We provide services on a weekly basis. REACH team members set up a regular schedule of meetings with the parent/guardian and the child to address their needs. We work with the whole family to help them feel more confident and comfortable in working and playing with their child.
Every six months, we re-assess how the plan is working. Twice a year, the child’s full REACH team meets with the family to discuss the child’s progress and any areas of concern. They may then adjust the plan to focus on specific areas of interest. Parents and guardians are encouraged to ask questions at any time, and to offer feedback on the work we are doing.
We work with the child up to age three. Many children receive REACH services up to their third birthday. Others reach their developmental milestones earlier, at which point we cheerfully celebrate and wish the family well. The REACH team will discuss with the family how long Early Intervention services are needed.
We help the child transition to pre-school. As the child approaches age 3, we work with his or her family to prepare for pre-school – connecting them with the local school district to ease the transition. Often, children who have been involved with Early Intervention are eligible for services or programs through the public schools.
The REACH Early Intervention Program was founded in 1977 following passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975.This act guaranteed that every person, regardless of their disability, would have access to free, appropriate educational services, including Early Intervention. REACH was one of the first Early Intervention programs in the country, created to address the needs of children from birth to age three.
A local pediatrician, Dr. Allen Shores, wrote the proposal for a federal grant to support services for developmentally delayed children. That grant was funded, and Rural Early Assistance to Children (REACH) was launched to serve children and their families in Hampshire County, Franklin County, and the North Quabbin region of Worcester County. This territory covers 1,250 square miles, and includes 44 cities and towns and 22 school districts.
REACH was initially part of the Franklin-Hampshire Community Mental Health Center (FHCMHC), which merged with Valley Programs in 1995, and the new organization was then named ServiceNet. In its early days, REACH served 85-100 children in Hampshire County, 55 in Franklin County, and 15 in the North Quabbin. Now, REACH meets the needs of more than 600 children and their families each year, with a staff complement of more than 60.
The REACH team includes Developmental Specialists, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, Social Workers, and Administrative staff. Many of the clinicians have been with the program for more than a decade, and they have established strong relationships with area health care providers, schools, service agencies and others in the community.
Meet Our Team
Prity Shah, MS, PT, CEIS, is Director of Hampshire County REACH. She has been a physical therapist since 1987, specializing in treatment of young children, and joined the REACH team in 1999. Prity has worked with children in schools, hospitals and other settings, but her love has always been Early Intervention. She was first inspired to work with young children because she had considered herself a clumsy child. “I wanted other children to be able to gain strength, balance and coordination to do what they want in childhood and adulthood,” says Prity. “I learn so much from working with parents, supporting them to be the parents they want to be and helping them to be an active participant in their child’s growth needs.” One of Prity’s passions is Early Intervention groups. “I love seeing children inspired by one another as they form relationships with each other. And as a parent, I enjoy seeing the support and connection that parents in our groups receive from one another. I am so grateful for the REACH families who allow us into their lives and homes.”
Prity may be reached at [email protected]
Robin Sudlow, MS, CEIS, is Director of Franklin County & North Quabbin REACH services, and she has been with REACH since 2014. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and her master’s degree in Communication Disorders from Southern Connecticut State University. Robin worked in Connecticut and New Hampshire as a speech and language pathologist for 16 years—with 5 if those years spent on an assessment and diagnosis team, assessing children and developing programs as they transitioned into the school system. In 2004, Robin moved to England to serve as a speech and language therapist for the National Health System (NHS)) initially, after which she started her own business. Robin’s agency employed Speech & Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Physical Therapists to work primarily with children from birth to 5 years of age who had a myriad of developmental difficulties. She also was retained to go into schools and develop special needs teams. Robin has extensive training and experience with children with feeding difficulties, autism and developmental delays along with communication difficulties.
Robin may be reached at [email protected]
REACH Out! Newsletter
Each quarter, we publish the REACH Out! for families and Friends of REACH Early Intervention. If you would like to get on our mailing list, send your name and email address to [email protected].
DPH Corrective Action Plan-October 1, 2021
REACH Early Intervention services are overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), which conducts vigorous reviews of every aspect of our program. During their last review, they found two areas in which we need to take corrective action to assure that we are meeting the mark 100% of the time. These findings relate to our transition plans for when a child “graduates” from the program at age 3, and for when a family decides to stop or transfer services prior to graduation.
We welcome this feedback as an opportunity to shore up our processes so that we may best meet families’ needs, in accordance with the DPH guidelines. See the findings below:
Local determination needs intervention