Often, one of the first plans created for a child with special needs is the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). This document is designed to determine the services your child will receive, and when the services will be administered.
From birth to three years old, this plan shows your child’s current functioning levels, needs, and goals of the child and is written before they reach elementary school.
Individualized Family Service Plan
The IFSP supports the family as well as the child and takes into consideration all the input from all the family members.
Who Develops the IFSP?
Once your child is eligible for services within your state, and the IFSP team will come together to develop the plan. This team can vary depending on your child’s needs. As an example, the team might consist of a speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, and a social worker.
The family members of the child are vital to the team as they know more about the child’s needs than anyone else at this stage. This relationship helps greatly with writing the IFSP, especially with the child’s goals and accommodations
How is the IFSP Written?
Before writing an Individualized Family Service Plan, the team must first gather data about the child. First, the family members will be asked questions such as the daily routines of the household and any challenges the child may have during the day. Make sure to be as open with the IFSP team as possible as this will help the team write the best IFSP customized for your child’s needs.
As a parent, taking notes during the meeting and retaining all paperwork will help you stay involved in the procedure and if any disputes arise you have documentation of what has happened in the meetings.
Components of the IFSP
Every IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) must contain certain areas. Different elements are found in IFSPs based on the state where you live. Because of this, you will need to check with the appropriate state agency for specific guidelines in your state. Once found, this list will show the people who provide services, as well as the organizations who are responsible for paying for services.
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Current Levels of Functioning:
The IFSP will state your child’s present levels and any medical conditions. It may also include cognitive assessments and information on the child’s communication abilities and social-emotional development.
Information about the family is an essential part of the IFSP. Some examples of what may be included are;
- Your Family’s Priorities
- Needs Of The Family
- Needs Of The Child
Once the IFSP has been completed, a detailed list will be provided including the services your child is eligible for.
Your family’s IFSP could state, as an example, that your child will receive one-hour sessions of speech therapy twice per week. A detailed explanation of the length of each service will be provided for each category they are eligible for.
After the IFSP is written the team will meet a minimum every six months minimum. These meetings are created to look at the Individualized Family Service Plan and make any changes that are needed.
Keep in mind that as a parent, you can request a meeting to look through the IFSP with the service provider whenever you’d like.
Once your child is three years old, the team will meet to see if the child needs to continue with services or if they can be dismissed from the program.
If it’s decided that services are still needed, your child will be transitioned to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). That process is similar but so different at the same time! Check out the 7 Steps In The IEP Process for more information on how that may look.