Making a Plan - Your IFSP
What is an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)?
The Individualized Family Service Plan, or IFSP, isyour family’s written plan for early intervention services. Itshows how you and your early intervention team will worktogether to address the needs you identify for your childand family. The IFSP is family-centered. This means thatyou will be an active team member and a key decisionmaker throughout the IFSP process.
The IFSP is based on information from your child’s evaluation and from the concerns, resources, and priorities that you identify. It will list the services your child needs to develop and learn, and the services your family needs to support your child’s development. Also, it will list the duties of everyone involved. Some of the help you receive may come from your own family and friends, while specialists may provide other services.
Your Imagine! service coordinator is responsible for explaining the IFSP process to you. He or she will make sure the IFSP is written accurately and clearly and will answer any questions you have.
Your signature on the IFSP shows your participation and your agreement with the plan. However, if you disagree with all or part of the IFSP, you have the right to share your concerns and ask for changes. You may accept or refuse any or all services recommended to you. Once a service begins, you may stop that service any time you wish. A copy of the IFSP must be given to you after it is completed and signed.
The written IFSP is reviewed at least every six months. It is also updated at least once a year. However, your needs and resources may change, so more frequent reviews can be held to make changes, as needed.
What is an IFSP meeting and who will be involved?
An IFSP meeting is designed to give you and those who have evaluated your child an opportunity to discuss your child’s strengths and challenges in order to develop a plan for early intervention services. The outcome of this meeting is the written IFSP.
The people who must be included in your IFSP meeting are:
- you and any other family members you choose;
- an advocate or person outside of the family, if you choose;
- your service coordinator;
- the person or persons directly involved in conducting the evaluations and assessments; and
- as appropriate, persons who will be providing services to your child or family.
Another important person is your child’s physician, who will be contacted (with your permission) for his or her input. If a person listed above is unable to attend a meeting, arrangements must be made for the person’s involvement through other means, including participating in a telephone conference call, having a knowledgeable authorized representative attend the meeting, or making pertinent records available at the meeting. However, an IFSP meeting can never be held without a parent or legal guardian in attendance.
The more involved you and your family members are in the IFSP meeting, the more meaningful your plan will be. Think honestly about what is important to you and what your child needs. Read the evaluations and assessments about your child and ask any questions you have. Your service coordinator will ask you to share information about your child and family. Here are some sample questions to think about before the IFSP meeting:
- What does your child like? Dislike?
- What frustrates your child?
- What does your child do during the day?
- What things do you like to do as a family? With friends?
- Which people and agencies do you find helpful?
- What are your family’s strengths in meeting your child’s needs?
- What else do you want the team to know about your child or family?
- What is there about your answers to these questions that you want early intervention services to help you change?
What does an IFSP include?
The written IFSP includes:
- Your child’s strengths and needs
- Your family’s concerns, resources, and priorities, if you choose
- Written outcomes (or expectations)
- The services that will be provided
- Where services will be provided
- Who will provide the services
- How services will be provided, how often services will be provided, and the length of each contact (for example, one hour each week)
- The funding source for services
- When services will begin and when they will end
- The name of your service coordinator
- Transition steps and services for leaving early intervention services at age three (These plans are usually added to the IFSP around the time your child reaches age two and a half.)
What services can be provided for your child and family?
Early intervention services are designed aroundyour family’s needs, concerns, and priorities. Naturallearning opportunities that happen throughout your dayare used for practicing new skills with your child. Thereare fourteen allowable early intervention services.
The early intervention services you receive are considered with the following in mind:
- Focus—should be on your whole family, not just your eligible child
- Outcomes—you choose which skill-building outcomes you want to work on with your child so that he or she may become successful in family and community activities
- Providers—should work with you and your family in a close partnership
- Length of Service—your participation continues until the outcomes you have identified have been reached or until your child’s third birthday, whichever comes first; transition to community resources upon exit (for example, child care, Head Start, preschool special education) is assisted by your service coordinator
- Where—early intervention services should be in places in your home and community that you usually frequent (go to)
- Intensity—the frequency of early intervention services is designed to support you and your child in making progress toward the outcomes you have identified and reflect early intervention practices that are supported by research
- Measures of Success—your child learns new skills; your family gains confidence in meeting your child’s needs and in connecting with community resources and activities
Other services that are necessary to help your child meet his or her outcome, but that are not one of the fourteen early intervention services, are also included in your child’s plan. “Other services” typically describe services that your child could benefit from, but are not expected to be paid for as an early intervention service. Some possible services are:
- Other medical services or equipment
- Non-traditional Therapies
By including these services, your child’s IFSP will represent a complete picture of your child’s total needs. This will be helpful to both your service coordinator and other early intervention staff working with your child and family.
How will you know what services are needed for your child and family?
Developing your IFSP is a teameffort. It is important that you have good informationavailable to you before you make a decision about anappropriate plan for your child and family. Ask your servicecoordinator for information and materials to help youmake good decisions. Tell your team if you want moretime to think about the information before you make yourdecisions. By sharing information, the early interventionstaff can help you make plans that are best for your childand family.