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IFSP Tutorial - Evaluation and Assessment

Planning with Families for Evaluation and Assessment:

Essential Content of Planning with Families

Page 9 of 13

Deciding how to structure a child’s evaluation and assessment

Decisions that need to be made by parents, the interim service coordinator and early intervention providers about a child's eligibility evaluation and assessment include:


Two instruments that suggest considerations to discuss with families are included in Appendix A. The Family's Assessment Focus and Preassessment planning: The Setting can guide the discussion about planning for a child's assessment. Families can choose to review the topics/questions during the planning conversation with early intervention providers verbally, or submit their responses in writing.

  • What information to collect about a child. If a child is not automatically eligible for early intervention due to his or her medical condition, an eligibility evaluation must be conducted to determine the child's status in each of five developmental areas.

    Once a child is eligible for early intervention, assessment begins, and is ongoing throughout a child's participation in an early intervention program. Assessment is the process of identifying, with families, a child's unique strengths and needs, as well as the services appropriate to support a family in meeting those needs. A family's priorities and concerns about a child always form the basis for assessment.

  • Collecting information about a child in a family friendly manner. A child's evaluation and assessment can include administering a specific test, and should always include observation of the child in a familiar setting. Decisions must be made with families about when and where to observe a child, and what to look for.



Gertraud’s grandmother most wanted her granddaughter to talk. Since Gertraud was wary of strangers, the grandmother felt she would just hide behind the curtains when the early intervention evaluators came to their home. After some discussion, the Grandmother agreed to tape Shantay during her two most talkative times of day, bathtime and feeding the cat. This would provide them with “real” time samples of the sounds Gertraud could make, even if she didn’t want to talk while they were visiting her.



Gertraud's Story


  • Who should conduct a child's eligibility evaluation and assessment, if needed? Qualified personnel will determine if a child is eligible for early intervention due to a diagnosed condition. They will evaluate a child's status in each of five developmental areas. Personnel who have the expertise to address family questions about a child's development and participation in daily activities should conduct the eligibility evaluation and begin assessment.

Shantay’s parents wanted help including their daughter in family meals since she refused to eat all but three foods. Since Shantay was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder, she was automatically eligible for her local Infants and Toddlers Program. The staff member with expertise in behavioral disorders was scheduled for Shantay’s initial assessment.



Shantay's Story


  • Role of Family in a child's evaluation and assessment. Family preferences for involvement and who may be present during a child's evaluation and assessment. A family member should always be present at a child's evaluation/assessment, at the very least to observe and comment on how a child interacts with the evaluation team and the materials/items presented. Family members may also present test items, as appropriate to standardized test procedures, when a child does not want to interact with unfamiliar testers. Family members may also describe a child's performance in specific situations, such as what happens when a child wakes up in the morning and is hungry, or tries to open a bag to retrieve a snack.

Plans should be made among evaluators to keep brothers and sisters involved, if appropriate. For example, bring a puzzle, or crayons and paper for a preschooler who may be interested in the "new" toys that have just appeared in their home. Suggesting that parents arrange for alternative childcare for their other children during evaluation and assessment conveys the message that early intervention is only about the referred child.


Simone was intent on listening to Rachel’s mother talk about what a fighter her daughter was. Little attention was paid to Rachel’s older brother, Jacob, until he entered the living room, looking like a ghost, with an entire container of preemie Enfamil formula dumped on his head. Later, Simone talked with her colleagues about being sure to include activities for a 4 year old during Rachel’s assessment.



Simone's Story


  • Family preferences for location, time, and dates to conduct evaluation and assessment procedures. When selecting location(s) and time(s), discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various environments for conducting specific procedures. Find out when a child is most alert during the day, and when nap and mealtimes are generally observed, and try to schedule around these times. Alternatively, if a child's eating behavior is a concern, try to schedule the evaluation and assessment during a mealtime, or at least discuss having desirable snack food on hand.


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