The information below comes from the Waisman Center website.
The IFSP Process starts with the initial contact with the family. This is where the family’s story starts to unfold and the provider and caregiver(s) begin to build a relationship. The IFSP document is just one part of this process.
- The IFSP – the written product itself – is possibly the least important aspect of the entire IFSP Process. Far more important are the interaction, collaboration, and partnerships between families and professionals that are necessary to develop and implement the IFSP. (McGonigel, M.J., & Johnson, B., H. (1991). An Overview. In McGonigel, M.J., & Johnson, B., H., & Kaufmann, R. K. (Eds.), Guidelines and recommended practices for the individualized family service plan (2nd ed.). Bethesda, MD: Association for the Care of Children’s Health, p. 1)
The service coordinator, however, is responsible for compiling the written portion of the IFSP as it represents the formal agreement reached by the IFSP Team – which includes the family – and is required by HFS 90 and IDEA. According to HFS 90, the service coordinator is responsible for convening a meeting to develop the initial IFSP within 45 days after receiving a referral for initial evaluation of a child. It not only reflects and records the process the team has gone through to identify outcomes, strategies and services, it becomes the legal basis for the provision of services. The IFSP document is the reference for any questions about the appropriateness of the services or the frequency, location, or intensity of these services and forms the legal basis for appeals and other formal decisions.
The following components must be included in the IFSP:
- information about the child’s developmental status, including statements about the child’s present level of ability that are based on “professionally acceptable objective criteria”;
- summaries of the evaluation and initial assessment of the child and reports of any ongoing assessment;
- a summary of the family’s strengths, resources, concerns, and priorities related to enhancing the child’s development (with the parents’ permission);
- a statement of the expected outcomes for the child and family, as identified by the IFSP team, and the criteria, procedures, and timelines to be used in determining progress toward those outcomes (or need for modification of outcomes);
- the early intervention services needed to reach the outcomes. This includes the frequency, intensity, and service delivery model to be used; the setting in which the service will be provided; payment arrangements; the projected dates for initiation of services and their expected duration; and, if appropriate, medical or other services the child needs, but which will not be provided by the early intervention program, and the steps that will be taken to secure those services (see Memo on Health Info on the IFSP);
- the name of the service coordinator;
- steps taken to support the family through transitions;
- provisions for ongoing review, evaluation, and, when needed, revision of the plan; and
- justification of when early intervention cannot be achieved satisfactorily in a natural environment.
The IFSP document is meant to reflect a fluid process, responsive to the changing needs of a child and family. Service coordinators must have a method to track the changing needs and legal timelines related to the IFSP process for each family they work with. Consider reviewing the sample checklists referred to in Unit 2. There are four points in a child and family’s Birth to 3 timeline that are important for service coordinators to be aware of:
- The primary referral source has two working days to refer the child for an evaluation from the time he/she concludes there is a developmental concern;
- From the day the responsible agency receives the referral, it has 45 days to complete the evaluation and initial assessment and hold an IFSP meeting to develop a service plan. (In certain situations, an Interim IFSP might be used. See Interim IFSP Guidelines.)
- After the initial IFSP has been developed, it must be reviewed every six months, or sooner, if warranted or if the parents request a review. (See Guidelines for IFSP Revisions.)
- At least annually, the service coordinator must convene a meeting to evaluate and revise the IFSP as needed.
Resources are available on the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Training and Technical Assistance web site to assist you in understanding the legal requirements of the IFSP document. Where?
- Left tool bar: Click on Birth to 3 Basics
- Click on IFSP (Be sure to review the items under “The Big Picture” and consider reviewing the “Walk Through the IFSP Process Slide Show”)
- Additional information on completing the IFSP document can be found on the Nebraska Department of Education web site, IFSPweb. Read through Developing a Great IFSP for an additional perspective and detailed guidelines on what should be included.
As mentioned earlier, it is those initial conversations with families which begin to build mutual trust and help develop an exceptional IFSP. Your discussions with families should follow an ecological perspective considering a family’s:
- Resources & supports
- Current situations
A major portion of the IFSP document will be devoted to developing and prioritizing child and family outcomes that are appropriate for intervention. These outcomes will be based on family routines as well as information learned from evaluations and assessments of the child’s current level of functioning. Multiple tools are available to assist you, the family, and additional team members to identify family routines, functional outcomes and appropriate resources for intervention.
The article, Functional Intervention Planning: The Routines-Based Interview – (HTML version), from FPG Child Development Institute – Project INTEGRATE, gives practical tips on how to introduce the routines-interview, ask questions and have rich conversations with families about outcomes.
Some of the suggested questions to incorporate into a Routines-Based Interview (taken from the above article) might be:
- How does your day start?
- What does everyone do at this time?
- What does the child do?
- How does the child participate?
- What does the child do by him or herself?
- How does the child communicate and get along with others?
- How satisfied is the caregiver with the routine?
- What happens next in your day?*
Discovering Family Routines:
Other links are available on individual state websites . Many of the links point to the Family-Guided Approaches to Collaborative Early-Intervention Training and Services (FACETS) web site. Where?
- Left tool bar: Click on Birth to 3 Basics
- Click on Natural Environments (Be sure to look under Additional Resources/Other)
- Good forms to review include:
Outcomes that may be listed should state an end point that can be observed (i.e. sleep through the night; eat independently; communicate using a combination of words, signs & simple devices; have mobility to explore the environment; play with brother; have knowledge and resources about…) They also include parent priorities and concerns as well as provider information gained from assessments. An IFSP provider looks for outcomes to integrate information across developmental domains (not be simply an OT or a fine motor goal) to incorporate language that the parent understands or helped to write.
Other guidelines for outcomes include:
- Addressing both family and child needs
- Stating why the outcome is important to the family (consider using a “so that” or “why is this important” statement)
- Including a statement about how the outcome will be measured (ask “How will we know we accomplished this?”)
- Revising, eliminating or adding to outcomes when agreed by the family and team
- Enhancing the family’s optimism about the future.
More Guidance on Writing Functional Outcomes:
Planning for Interventions within Naturally Occurring Routines and Activities (Adapted by WPDP for the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Programs from FACETS materials, Lindeman & Woods), can be used to assist the IFSP team in thinking about and writing appropriate functional outcomes.
- Example form with explanations PDF, (HTML version)
- Completed Example #1 PDF (HTML version)
- Completed Example #2 PDF (HTML version)
- Blank Form PDF (HTML version)
The Waisman Center has the following info listed on their site for IFSP Service Providers:
Appropriate Resources for Intervention:
- Project TaCTICS (Module 2) provides information on routine-based intervention. The article, Considerations for Planning Routine-Based Intervention, and the form, Routines-Based Intervention Plan, will get you started.
- The Family Guided Routines Based Intervention Project (FGRBI) provides tools and resources that can assist early intervention providers and families to embed intervention into daily routines and activities in natural environments. Take some time to review their model and available resources.
Application Station: Tools for Completing the IFSP
Become familiar with a new form or tool that might assist you and the team in completing an IFSP, or take the time to review your organization’s IFSP document. Complete Application Station: Tools for Completing the IFSP.
* From Project INTEGRATE (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center) – an outreach project funded by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
These modules were developed from a combination of materials, including:
- Pathways Service Coordination Project, Waisman Center-University of Wisconsin-Madison, funded by a number of grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. These materials were developed and field tested for several years within Wisconsin and several other states throughout the nation, leading to these publications: Pathways Trail Mix: A Collection of Ideas and Training Activities in Early Intervention Service Coordination (1999); Pathways in Early Intervention Service Coordination: A Video & Companion Guide (1996); and Pathways: A Training and Resource Guide for Enhancing Skills in Early Intervention Service Coordination (1996)
- Wisconsin Personnel Development Project/Birth to 3 RESource Training materials posted on the Birth to 3 Training and Technical Assistance Website
- Portage Project, CESA 5 Training Materials
- Materials and forms created by Wisconsin County Birth to 3 Programs
- Resources available on the Internet that have been developed by other programs throughout the country.