The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is the document used for planning and implementing supports and services for eligible infants, toddlers, and their families. It is both a process and a written document. The process involves a collaborative planning effort and partnership between the parent and the professionals. Plans are developed jointly by the IFSP team.
A strong, comfortable, and trusting relationship between team members is a critical component for the provision of cohesive early intervention services. Cooperation, communication, and mutual respect are important ingredients for a successful partnership and for families to receive the greatest benefit from early intervention. IFSP team members need opportunities to communicate and meet regularly. Ongoing communication is needed to build good working relationships, although this can be difficult with busy schedules. Phone and email are good ways to check in between visits and IFSP reviews to make sure that all are on the same page. Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is this – when the partnership doesn’t work well, it affects the child and family. To have the most effective early intervention system, we have to all work together.
Who is on the IFSP Team?
- parent(s) of the child
- other family members, as requested by the parent
- an advocate or person outside of the family, if the parent requests that the person participate
- the service coordinator
- a person(s) directly involved in conducting evaluation and assessment
- persons providing early intervention services to the child and family
If a person listed above is unable to attend a meeting, arrangements must be made for the person’s involvement through other means, including one of the following:
- Participating in a telephone conference call
- Having a knowledgeable authorized representative attend the meeting
- Making pertinent records available at the meeting
What is the role of the IFSP team?
The role of the IFSP team is to consider the following and then determine what early intervention supports and services are needed by the family to achieve the established IFSP outcomes.
- identify the concerns, priorities, and resources of the family (related to enhancing the child’s development);
- review results of evaluation and assessment that provide current developmental status of the child in all areas of development, including how the child is functionally using these skills in the context of activity settings in the home, community and other natural environments;
- develop new integrated participation-based outcomes or review the progress being made on existing IFSP outcomes;
- develop activities and strategies for meeting outcomes;
- select appropriate services and supports to meet outcomes;
- determine the responsibilities of each team member; and
- maintain open and ongoing communication between all team members, including the family.
The IFSP team meets at least every 6 months to review and revise the IFSP. In addition to these semi-annual and annual reviews, the team has ongoing communication during and between visits. Whenever there are new concerns or information for the IFSP team to consider, the team should come together to discuss, problem solve, and make decisions. Only the IFSP team, which includes the parent, can determine the early intervention supports and services needed by a family and must be considered in relation to the IFSP outcomes to be achieved. These team decisions include all aspects of service provision including location, frequency, intensity and method.