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IFSP Tutorial - Developing and Implementing
 

Developing the IFSP:


Essential Content


Page 13 of 13

Identifying early intervention supports and services

The IFSP is intended to briefly outline which early intervention services will be provided, how a service coordinator can initiate those services, and what actions will be taken by parents. After family/child outcomes, criteria and strategies are selected, the IFSP team can then consider:

1. Who will provide family/child supports and services;

2. When, and for how long, family/child supports and services will be provided; and

3. Where family/child supports and services will be provided.

  Screenshot
  Session 3, Implementing IFSPs with Families, focuses on providing formal and informal supports and services from Part C early intervention programs, related agencies and informal community resources.
 
 

 

1. Who will provide family/child supports and services

There are a variety of professional services and community resources which can assist families and children in reaching their desired IFSP outcomes (Trivette, Dunst & Deal, 1997). Each IFSP team should consider a variety of formal and informal supports, services and resources such as:

Formal supports/services include early intervention services in a local Infants and Toddlers Program funded by the IDEA, as well as from other departments, organizations or programs serving children and families such as parent education classes in a public school or social service agency, health and specialized medical services, or housing options for homeless families.

Informal resources include child care centers, toddler programs in libraries, community service clubs, recreation and sports programs, education programs in parks, nature centers and museums.


When reviewing with families whether formal early intervention supports/services from a local Infants and Toddlers Program would be helpful, the primary consideration of an IFSP team is:

Who has the expertise to assist a family in reaching their desired child/family outcomes?

Expertise refers to the knowledge and experience that any team member, including family members, can contribute. The dialogue should focus on which early intervention provider(s) has the specific knowledge and experience to complement the knowledge and experience of family members so that desired child/family outcomes can be achieved.

It is critical to review all the outcomes and strategies identified by an IFSP team before selecting formal early intervention supports and services. The goal is not to assign a different discipline to each outcome, but to consider:

  • How are early development foundations of social interaction, mastery of the environment and engagement in learning addressed in child/family outcomes and strategies?
  • Are specialized skills needed to implement the strategies and supports to reach each outcome?
  • Who will be the most effective early intervention provider(s) in implementing these strategies supporting a child’s ability to participate in family and community life?


If formal supports/services from a local Infants and Toddlers Program are selected by an IFSP team, the IDEA requires that the specific early intervention services necessary to meet the unique needs of a child and family be identified on their IFSP. Table 2.4 presents examples of formal and informal supports and services for achieving child and family outcomes.


2. When, and for how long, family/child supports and services will be provided.

 
  The IDEA requires that the frequency, intensity and method of delivery for specific early intervention services be identified on an IFSP, with projected dates for initiation of services and their anticipated duration.  
     

In selecting the frequency, intensity and method of delivery of early intervention supports/services, the primary consideration for an IFSP team is:

How much support/service is needed to assist family members in reaching their desired outcomes?

To adequately address this question, the IFSP team should think about:

  • Prioritizing family/child outcomes, especially if a family feels that focusing on one or two outcomes more intensively for an agreed upon period of time would help them manage competing family, personal and work responsibilities. For example, some families may prefer to prioritize outcomes to focus on a child’s feeding, sleep or behavior issues since they often affect the daily rhythms of the entire family.
  • Flexibility in providing early intervention supports/services. In many instances, one primary service provider can support a family in implementing IFSP strategies with ongoing coaching/consultation from colleagues who have specialized knowledge, skills and experiences that will assist the primary provider and family in reaching desired outcomes.

Table 2.4 presents examples of formal and informal supports and services for achieving child and family outcomes.

3. Where family/child supports and services will be provided

 
  The IDEA requires that the natural environments in which early intervention supports/services will be provided must be identified on an IFSP  
     

In selecting where early intervention supports/services will be provided, the primary consideration is:

What functional outcomes have been selected by a family, and in what context will they be demonstrated?

Functional outcomes identify the desirable knowledge, skills and/or behavior that a child or family members will acquire to ensure a young child’s successful participation in daily life. The “context” specifies where this knowledge, skills or behavior will occur in selected routines, activity settings, spaces and places that a child and family spend their time, and/or would like to participate in.

These contexts, identified by families, are the natural environments for early intervention services and are the actual situations in which a child will use and master emerging skills. Obvious natural environments are a child’s home and/or child care setting; others include the neighborhood/community spaces and places where families with very young children spend their time participating in activities and interactions with friends, neighbors and other families.

Table 2.4 presents examples of formal and informal supports and services for achieving child and family outcomes.


The IDEA also requires that an IFSP include justification of the extent, if any, to which early intervention supports/services will not be provided in a natural environment. Locations which are not considered natural environments for very young children include hospitals, clinics, private offices and settings/activities in which only children with disabilities attend. The intent of the natural environment mandate is to focus the efforts of early intervention providers on ensuring that young children master and use specific skills and interactions so that they and their family can participate in meaningful situations and activity settings that typically developing children/families engage in. If an IFSP team decides that early intervention services must be provided outside a child’s natural environments, very careful consideration should be given to how and when mastery of the child’s emerging skills in daily situations will be addressed.

 

 


 


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