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IFSP Tutorial - Developing and Implementing

Developing the IFSP:

Essential Content

Page 10 of 13

Assisting families to select functional outcomes

Outcomes identify the aspects of family and community life that parents would like to see their child to participate more fully in. They are not indicators of developmental delays identified by early intervention providers. Outcomes are “owned” by a family and “adopted” by early intervention providers who will provide supports and services to help families achieve their outcomes. This does not mean, however, that all parents have their desired outcomes on the “tips of their tongue.”

Asking parents what they want a child to do next, rather than where and how they want a child to participate in family and community life, overemphasizes domain-specific skills separate from a meaningful context defining where and how skills will be used. Evidence about early development emphasizes that a child’s active exploration within multiple contexts, supported by key caregivers, is critical to developing competency.

Assisting a family to identify functional outcomes begins with exploring a child’s and family’s positive interactions and interests (Dunst, Hamby, Trivette, Raab, & Bruder, 2000). Family interests and routines (e.g., gardening, cooking, raising pets/animals, playing musical instruments, visiting friends and family) provide a context for young children. Child and family interests also provide direction for selecting individualized IFSP strategies in support of family-desired outcomes. In the vignette about Pedro, for example, Pedro’s interest in playing with other children in his nursery school suggests key strategies for prompting his receptive language, as identified by his mother.

In addition to interests, prompt family members to talk about the kinds of actions, places and routines they would like to see their child be part of. A Routines-Based Interview (McWiliams, in press) helps focus on functional outcomes versus developmental delays or deficits. Other prompts that invite families to think about their interactions and interests include:


Child’s interests

Family’s interests

My child likes it when…

My child gets excited about….

My child likes to do…

Ways my child shows me she/he is interested in something…

My child pays particular attention to…

My child’s favorite place...

My child’s favorite people….

Our family enjoys…

When we have time we like to…

Places we often go….

People we like to spend time with…

Things we do at home for fun…

Things we like to do in our community…




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