Pairing Special Needs Families With Quality Providers

By Ronna Mandel

special needs - love my provider

Sarah Gershfeld, left, founded Love My Provider to help parents of those with special needs connect with quality service providers. PHOTO COURTESY SCRIPPS COLLEGE

Need a restaurant recommendation? Try Yelp. A plumber? Angie’s List. And if you’re looking for a reliable service provider for someone with special needs, you can turn to Love My Provider (www.lovemyprovider.com), a fee-free website specializing in therapeutic services such as Applied Behavior Analysis; occupational, physical and speech therapy; summer camps and day programs.

The nonprofit company was founded by special educator and behavior analyst Sara Gershfeld, who provided special-needs services through schools and Regional Centers – including Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center and Westside Regional Center – for more than 10 years, and noticed quite a disparity in the quality of service providers. She decided to create a website where parents could search for local therapists, doctors and programs, and share their reviews with others. The service covers most major cities.

“If you can’t find just what you’re looking for that way, then you can link to our Live Chat and have us source exactly what you do need,” says Gershfeld. Parents can also use the “Request a Call” feature to explain what they need and have providers get back to them. “When a parent’s searching for a service, they’re usually calling five to ten providers to find a good fit,” she says. “We swap this around. When you go to LMP, within a week you have providers calling you telling you why they would be the best for your child. That’s how we think it should be.”

LMP works with The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (www.bhcoe.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to clinical quality assurance, to screen providers for patient satisfaction and clinical quality.

LMP is also committed to growing its provider database, according to Gershfeld, and families can let them know about providers they recommend by submitting to lovemyprovider.com/submit-listing.

“One of my first hires at LMP was a mom of an autistic child,” says Gershfeld. “Her motto is ‘Information Is Power!’ Parents often feel powerless and alone, but they can turn that around. We are an ally. Read, research, network, share your own experiences, and find a community of like parents.”

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