What is an IFSP?
An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a written document as well as a process that you and a group of professionals create to ensure favorite outcomes for your child’s early intervention program. It outlines the recommended ECI services for your child and details when, where, and how the ECI will deliver these services. The IFSP is a cooperative effort that forms the cornerstone of early intervention. Think of the IFSP as a map or guidebook that helps keep you and early childhood specialists on track.
What is the Difference between an IFSP and an IEP?
The IFSP is a guide for early childhood intervention and development up until age 3. In contrast, an individualized education program (IEP) is a guide for special education and related services/activities for children who qualify between ages 3 to 21.
Who Puts Together the IFSP?
Creating the IFSP is a team effort that takes into account parental concerns, the child’s current level of development, and objective milestones upon the completion of ECI services. The IFSP team usually includes the following individuals:
- You (the parent or parents)
- Other family members (upon parental request)
- A non-family member child advocate (upon request)
- Service coordinator (the person who implements the IFSP)
- Trained professionals who perform evaluations and assessments
- Trained professionals who perform the actual ECI services
In some cases, an IFSP team may include additional personnel such as:
- Pediatric medical practitioner
- Personal care attendant
- Child development specialists
- Social worker
What should be Included in the IFSP?
Before creating the IFSP, the team must collect relevant information. During this process, you may be invited to meetings and asked to share your ideas, concerns, preferences, and priorities. Your family structure, strengths, and potential resources can also play a role in creating the plan. Be sure to brainstorm questions and take notes during meetings. If you participate in phone meetings, make a note of the professional you spoke with and the matter discussed.
Although each child is different, common elements found in IFSPs in every state include the following:
- Information about the family and professional organizations involved in the IFSP
- Data about your child’s current level of functioning or present state of development
- Services that the child will receive in detail (such as projected start date, frequency of services, length of each session, duration and intensity of each treatment, and the organization responsible for paying for these services)
- Desired outcomes or goals at the end of each service (such as “Ryan will demonstrate fine motor and oral-motor skills by gripping his sippy cup, lifting it to his mouth, and drinking without assistance)
- Information about transition from early childhood intervention services once the child reaches the maximum age
- Signatures and written consent from the parent or legal guardian
Can I Make Changes to the IFSP?
Most service provides review the IFSP document at least every six months, and most states require that the team update the document annually. Use these review periods to evaluate your child’s progress and make changes to the IFSP if necessary.
If you have any questions about the IFSP process, contact The Warren Center.