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IFSP Tutorial - Evaluation and Assessment

Planning with Families for Evaluation and Assessment:

Essential Content of Planning with Families

Page 4 of 13

Assisting families to identify their concerns, priorities, and resources

Information provided by family members about their concerns, priorities, and resources related to their child's development should be collected in a personal discussion during a planning conversation. Early intervention providers should understand a family empowerment approach so that they are able to view the family and child as the primary unit of service, and support family decision-making (Wyngarten, 2000). Asking open-ended questions provides opportunities for a family to talk about how early intervention services/supports can assist them in parenting their child, and help him or her participate in family life and community activities.

A family-directed assessment of their priorities, resources and concerns related to parenting a child with special needs is an ongoing process. As a relationship with a new baby develops over time, parents gain insight and experience about what they want for their child. As a child grows and develops, or as family circumstances vary, their priorities, resources, and concerns may change. Events or markers that may prompt a family to alter their perspective include:

  • birthday celebrations;

  • developmental milestones such as when a child typically learns to sit up, talk, and use the toilet;

  • family trips and vacations to a new environment with unfamiliar people and surroundings;

  • moving to a different apartment/house with a new physical layout;

  • a child's six month and annual IFSP review; and

  • a child's upcoming transition from early intervention at 3 years of age.


A planning discussion should also include understanding a family's daily routines and activity settings, and the settings/activities in which they would like their child to participate. Examples of open-ended questions to prompt families to consider their daily and desired activities include:


  • What are your family's hopes for (child)?

  • What is (child) interested in? What does (child) like?

  • Who does (child) spend time with during the day?

  • Where does (child) spend time throughout the week?

  • What kinds of things does your family do that you would like (child) to be part of?

  • What questions do you have about how (child) is doing, or what you would like (child) to do?




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