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IFSP Tutorial - Evaluation and Assessment

Planning with Families for Evaluation and Assessment:

Essential Content of Planning with Families

Page 8 of 13

Issues related to planning a child's evaluation and assessment

Two things should take place during a planning conversation for evaluation and assessment. First, specific issues about the evaluation and assessment need to be discussed. Second, based on this conversation, decisions need to be made about how to structure the evaluation so that family/provider questions are answered in a comfortable, supportive environment.

The following issues should be discussed with families as part of the planning conversation for evaluation and assessment:



  • Family preferences for mode of communication, including a child and family's native language. Do not assume that a child understands your language even when a parent does, or vice versa. Also, find out if an interpreter is needed, or whether a child/parent is hearing impaired, and what kind of communication they use.



Sylvia, a family service coordinator, learned serveral important communication tips from talking with a parent using a sign language translator. The most important was to stop talking when she gave printed information to a parent who needed to look at the translator, and not the brochure, in order to understand her message.



Sylvia's Story


  • Child’s participation (current and desired) in his/her daily settings and key family routines/activities. Explore with a family how a child’s (strengths and challenges) affects his or her participation in daily activities. For example, if a parent expresses concern that a child is not sitting up, explore the situations in which the parent would like to see the child sit and participate (e.g., playing with a brother, petting the family cat, sitting in a high chair at meal times with the family).

    Also, clarify any referral concerns and questions that parents may have, including areas of development about which the family would like to have more information. Frequently, family members notice that their child is not talking or walking like other children of similar age, or there may be concerns due to a child’s medical status or health issues. If these questions/information requests cannot be answered during an initial planning conversation, be sure they are relayed to the appropriate early intervention providers.


Katarina, a family service coordinator, listened to a mother express concerns about whether her daughter’s hearing was actually assessed while in the NICU. She relayed the mother’s concerns to the evaluators who would review the child ’s medical reports.



Katarina's Story


  • Behavioral characteristics of a child that might influence evaluation and assessment results, such as time of day when a child is most alert, or his or her responsiveness to strangers. Ask about having comfort objects available, such as a special stuffed animal or pacifier. Obviously, family members will provide the most comfort for a child who is wary or fatigued by unfamiliar people and materials.



Tyler’s mother described how hard it was to calm him since he had dropped his beloved teddy bear at a yard sale, and it was actually sold to an unsuspecting neighbor. Ceila agreed wholeheartedly with the mother that the bear should be back in hand by the time of Tyler’s eligibility evaluation.



Tyler's Story


  • Child's medical history, including diagnosis and reports from previous assessments, if the family chooses to share this information. Explain how medical and developmental information can be used to streamline a child's evaluation for eligibility since it is not necessary to repeat evaluations if results are still valid. Federal and Maryland laws guarantee eligibility by virtue of having a condition that is associated with a high probability of developmental delay, such as a chromosomal disorder or prematurity less than 1200 grams at birth.
  • What an eligibility evaluation and assessment looks like, so that families have an idea of what will happen. Include in your description:
    • Names and roles of providers who will participate in the evaluation/assessment, if known (if not, provide this information as soon as possible);
    • Description of the five developmental areas (communication, language, physical including hearing and vision, social/emotional and adaptive), which must be assessed according to federal/state law. It is often helpful to give simple examples of the five areas, so that families can understand what the evaluation team will be looking for;
  • How a child will be determined eligible for the early intervention program. It is helpful to review with families that the purpose of the Part C early intervention program in Maryland, as defined by federal and state law, is to provide support/services to families when a child meets the following criteria:
  • When and how results of evaluation and assessment will be shared with the family. Families should receive immediate verbal feedback about any evaluation and assessment on the same day that these procedures are conducted. They should also have the opportunity to ask questions and share their observations about their child's performance. Information about when written reports will be completed should also be discussed.



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