Coaching in Early Intervention Training and Mentorship Program

A Partnership between Kentucky’s Early Intervention System and the University of Louisville



 Kentucky’s Early Intervention System’s (KEIS) First Steps is a statewide early intervention system that provides services to children with developmental disabilities from birth to age 3 and their families. First Steps is Kentucky's response to the federal Infant-Toddler Program. First Steps offers comprehensive services through a variety of community agencies and service disciplines and is administered by the Department for Public Health in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Kentucky’s Early Intervention System’s current State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) focuses on family outcomes and includes goals targeting the skills of both the Point of Entry (POE) staff and providers who conduct early intervention services. For providers, the SSIP stakeholder group chose to focus on four evidence-based practices (EBPs): coaching as a parent mediated intervention, routines-based interventions, natural environments, and strength-based coaching. The Coaching in Early Intervention Training and Mentorship Program (CEITMP) is designed to provide the foundational knowledge and supports to implement these EBPs.

Coaching in early intervention involves early intervention providers partnering with families and other caregivers to promote learning and development with their child. Coaching includes five research-based practice characteristics: joint planning, observation, action/practice, reflection, and feedback. Early intervention coaches support families in identifying their priorities, coming up with their own ideas and practicing them.  Coaching can be used with all families.

This project was supported by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Early Childhood Branch, Kentucky’s Early Intervention System Division under the State University Partnership contract titled “Record Review Project” and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics. Grant number: H181A170085.  This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Public Health.

Coaching in Early Intervention Training and Mentorship Program
Department of Pediatrics
University of Louisville School of Medicine

571 S. Floyd Street Suite 233
Louisville, KY 40202

PHONE  (502) 852-9196
FAX (502) 852-9200


For KEIS Providers

The (SSIP) initially called for all providers who delivered services in the Lincoln Trail, Big Sandy, and Bluegrass pilot sites to participate in the CEITMP.  As pilot sites complete the CEITMP, a primary guiding principle of the SSIP is to scale up early intervention evidence-based practices. Therefore, the sustainability plan for the Kentucky's SSIP calls for all KEIS providers, statewide, to participate in the CEITMP to ensure all are coaching families.

Statewide rollout of the CEITMP

Why Only Coaching?

Early intervention providers partner with families to build their capacity to support their children’s learning and development. Families bring the expertise of their child, family, routines/activities, and priorities/concerns.  Early intervention coaches support families in identifying their priorities, coming up with their own ideas and practicing them. A coaching approach is used to help families realize their critical role in making the most impact on their child’s development and to support them in capturing opportunities in their daily routines to achieve outcomes.  Coaching can be used with all families.

Check out the “Why Coaching” video on YouTube.

Professional benefits of the completing the CEITMP include:

  • Free, high-quality professional development
  • A web of support with EI colleagues
  • Provider matrix designation
  • Licensure/CEUs/Course Credit
  • Building caregiver confidence

Check out the YouTube series “Provider Perspectives on Coaching


CEITMP Frequently Asked Questions

Access the FAQs

Click a link below to watch a video answering:


Additional coaching resources

Follow us on YouTube

YouTube channel for all available podcasts.

Podcast Playlists:


The Early Childhood Coaching Handbook, Second Edition, 2019, Dathan D. Rush Ed.D., CCC-SLP & M’Lisa L. Shelden PT, Ph.D. is used as a primary resource for the CEITMP.  Copies are available for loan.


Continuing Education Units

The CEITMP has approved CEU hours for state licensure with the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Occupational Therapy, Kentucky Physical Therapy Association, and the Kentucky Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.


Professional Boards

Graduate Course Credit Opportunity

Up to 3 hours of graduate course credit from the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development through an Independent Study in Special Education (EDSP 696) can be earned for those willing to pay tuition. if you have additional questions. 


For Caregivers

Why coaching and what does coaching look like? 

Caregivers and providers have meaningful conversations to form partnerships to promote child learning and development, using knowledge to focus on what is important to you within everyday activities and routines. Both have key roles and use their knowledge to focus on what is important to caregivers within everyday activities and routines.

Visit our YouTube channel to watch the podcast: For Families-Coaching During Tele-Intervention-What does it look like? featuring conversations with families who have received services using the coaching model.


See the image below to see how you and KEIS providers work in partnership to promote your child’s learning and development.


Spanish version


Follow us on YouTube

Visit our YouTube channel for podcasts featuring conversations with families who have received services using the coaching model.

Meet the Coaching Team


Project Director

Scott D. Tomchek, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Dr. Tomchek has over 25 years of pediatric clinical practice, teaching, scholarship, and research experience in various settings.  Strengths-based, family-centered care is central to all programs he touches. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1991 and his post-professional Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1993 with a concentration in early intervention.  His Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Sciences from 2005 is from the University of Kentucky.  His research has included highly sited studies characterizing sensory processing in autism, American Occupational Therapy Association sponsored practice guidelines, and numerous book chapters.  Additionally, he was one of the first to describe the prevalence of and link sensory processing to behaviors associated with autism.  He frequently speaks at interdisciplinary national conferences on early intervention, coaching, sensory processing, and autism topics. Dr. Tomchek is a Governor appointee on the Kentucky Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Interagency Coordinating Council for Kentucky’s Early Intervention System.


Denise E. Insley, MS

Denise Insley received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Eastern Kentucky University in 1992 and her Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Kentucky University in 1995.  She has over 17 years of experience as a mental health therapist, program director, clinical coordinator and child/adolescent clinical lead in community and private mental health settings. She served as a university course instructor for the Psychology and Criminal Justice departments, First Year Courses and Upward Bound program at Eastern Kentucky University.  As EKU Mentoring Coordinator, she worked with university faculty, staff, and student mentors to provide positive experiences and supports to at-risk middle and high school students.  In academic advisor and specialist roles, she provided support to both students and single parents pursuing college degrees. Throughout her varied positions, promoting children and family success has been a consistent focus.

Master Coaches

Serena Wheeler, PhD, IECE
Serena Wheeler has dedicated over 30 years to serving children and families. She received her BA in Human Services from Lindsey Wilson College, her MAE in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education from Western Kentucky University, and her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction for Special Education from the University of Louisville. She is active in the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, which promotes policies and advances evidence-based practices to support young children who have or at risk for developmental delays and disabilities and their families. She worked as an early interventionist; student teacher supervising provider; public preschool teacher; university instructor; and behavioral health therapist/case manager until transitioning in 2017 to training and mentoring Kentucky’s Early Intervention System (KEIS) providers around strength-based caregiver coaching.  Her primary areas of interest are evidence-based practices related to effective professional development for early intervention providers and coaching to build family capacity in Part C early intervention.

Cybil Cheek, M.Ed., DI, TDHH
Cybil Cheek completed her Masters in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education at the University of Louisville and her undergraduate dual degree at Eastern Kentucky University in Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education and Elementary Education. Post-graduate studies include DIR/Floortime and ECTP (Educational Consultant Training Program on Cochlear Implants). She has been an active provider in Kentucky Early Intervention System since 2000, currently mentoring providers, supporting statewide rollout and technology platforms. She has a special interest to support children and families influenced by Charge Syndrome and Deaf/Blindness. 

Michele Magness, PT
Michele Magness owned and operated a Physical Therapy Company for over 20 years. During that time, she served as an independent PT provider for the Kentucky early intervention system as well as several school districts in south central Kentucky. She then joined the Coaching in Early Intervention Mentorship and Training Program staff serving as a coach for providers in the Kentucky Early Intervention System. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from New Jersey City University and her graduate degree in Physical Therapy from The Robert Gordon University. She is Certified in Interactive Metronome and is a frequent speaker at Cystic Fibrosis conferences in Kentucky. 

Lisa Simpson, MS, CCC-SLP
Lisa Simpson earned her Master of Science degree in Communication Disorders from Western Kentucky University.  She has 25 years of experience working in the school system, home health, rehabilitation, long term care, and hospital settings.    Lisa devoted 22 years to serving families in Early Intervention prior to joining the CEITMP team.

Julie M. Leezer, BS, DI, IECE
Julie Leezer received her 5th year certification in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education from the University of Kentucky.  She has worked in the field of early intervention/early childhood for 30+ years.  Her work has included developmental intervention, service coordinator, preschool consultant, public preschool teacher and credentialed early childhood trainer.  Julie has also served as an adjunct instructor at the post-secondary level.  The CEITMP has afforded Julie the opportunity to partner with other early interventionists in expanding their practice to include coaching.  Through these partnerships and coaching knowledge, Kentucky First Step providers are supporting caregivers’ confidence and competence as they support their child’s development and learning.

Minda Kohner-Coogle, MA, CCC/SLP
Minda Kohner-Coogle graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Master of Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2009.  She has worked in the early childhood field for 20+ years, including as a data collector at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, a research assistant for the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky, and as a Speech Language Pathologist in Kentucky’s Early Intervention System for 10 years.  Minda joined the Coaching in Early Intervention Training and Mentorship Program in 2021

Coaching in Early Intervention Training and Mentorship Program
Department of Pediatrics
University of Louisville School of Medicine

571 S. Floyd Street Suite 233
Louisville, KY 40202

PHONE  (502) 852-9196
FAX (502) 852-9200


Materials and Resources


CEITMP Newsletter-Transitioning to Quality Series

Issue #13 | Meet the CEITMP Team - December 2023

Issue #12 | Preparing to Make the Most of Early Intervention Visits - September 2023

Issue #11 | Mastery Level CQ1 Fostering Trusting Relationships - June 2023

Issue #10 l Mastery Level Ending Joint Plans - March 2023

Issue #09 l Mastery Level Reflection and Feedback - December 2022

Issue #08 l Mastery Level Observation & Action/Practice - September 2022

Issue #07 l Developing Comprehensive and Effective Beginning Joint Plans - June 2022

Issue #06 l Action/Practice - March 2022

Issue #05 l Observation - December 2021

Issue #04 l Feedback - September 2021

Issue #03 l Maintenance Newsletter Reflection - June 2021

Issue #02 l Joint Planning - March 2021

Issue #01 l Maintenance Refresher - December 2020

KEIS SPP/APR Indicator 11 Documents


C20 Syllabus

Reading Recommendations

Branson, D. (2015). A case for family coaching in early intervention. Young Exceptional Children, 18(1), 44- 47.

Douglas, S. N., Meadan, H., & Kammes, R. (2020). Early Interventionists’ Caregiver Coaching: A Mixed Methods Approach Exploring Experiences and Practices. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 40(2), 84–96.

Kemp, P., & Turnbull, A. (2014). Coaching with parents in early intervention: An interdisciplinary research synthesis. Infants and Young Children, 27(4), 305-324.

Rush, D. D., Shelden, M. L. L., & Hanft, B. (2003). Coaching families and colleagues: A process for collaboration in natural settings. Infants & Young Children, 16(1), 33-47.


Online Recommendations

Key Principles of Early Intervention and Effective Practices: A Crosswalk with Statements from Discipline Specific Literature

Division for Early Childhood

Research Presentation

Measuring Maintenance to Coaching Fidelity to Inform Progress Monitoring

Professional Development Enhances EI Provider Coaching Adherence (April 2023)

Professional Development Specialist Interrater Reliability of Coaching Fidelity Scoring in a Statewide Professional Development Program (April 2023)

Factors Supporting Sustained Fidelity to Caregiver Coaching Practices