Writing the IFSP for your child with special needs
After your young child’s evaluation is complete and he or she is found eligible for early intervention services, you, as parents, and a team will meet to develop a written plan for providing early intervention services to your child and, as necessary, to your family.
This plan is called the Individualized Family Service Plan, or IFSP.
The IFSP is a very important document, and you, as parents, are important members of the team that develops it. This webpage focuses on the IFSP — both the process of writing it and what type of information it will contain.
What is an IFSP?
The IFSP is a written document that, among other things, outlines the early intervention services that your child and family will receive.
One guiding principal of the IFSP is that the family is a child’s greatest resource, that a young child’s needs are closely tied to the needs of his or her family. The best way to support children and meet their needs is to support and build upon the individual strengths of their family. So, the IFSP is a whole family plan with the parents as major contributors in its development. Involvement of other team members will depend on what the child needs. These other team members could come from several agencies and may include medical people, therapists, child development specialists, social workers, and others.
Each state has specific guidelines for the IFSP. Your service coordinator can explain what the IFSP guidelines are in your state.
Your child’s present levels of functioning and need in the areas of his or her physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional, and adaptive development
Family information (with your agreement), including the resources, priorities, and your concerns, as parents, and other family members closely involved with the child
The major results or outcomes expected to be achieved for your child and family
The specific early intervention services your child will be receiving
Where in the natural environment (e.g., home, community) the services will be provided (if the services will not be provided in the natural environment, the IFSP must include a statement justifying why not)
When and where your son or daughter will receive services
The number of days or sessions he or she will receive each service and how long each session will last
Who will pay for the services
The name of the service coordinator overseeing the implementation of the IFSP
The steps to be taken to support your child’s transition out of early intervention and into another program when the time comes.
The IFSP may also identify services your family may be interested in, such as financial information or information about raising a child with a disability.
The IFSP must be fully explained to you, the parents, and your suggestions must be considered. You must give written consent before services can start. If you do not give your consent in writing, your child will not receive services.
The meeting to develop the child’s first IFSP (and each annual meeting thereafter to review the IFSP) must include the following participants:
the parent or parents of the child;
other family members, as requested by the parent, if feasible to do so;
an advocate or person outside of the family, if the parent requests that the person participate;
the service coordinator designated by the system to be responsible for implementing the IFSP;
a person or persons directly involved in conducting the evaluations and assessments of the child and family; and
persons who will be providing early intervention services under this part to the child or family (as appropriate).
What happens next?
With your written permission, the IFSP is then implemented, meaning that the services described in the IFSP are provided to your child in the manner described in the IFSP. In other words, all that information you included in the IFSP now serves as a roadmap for the early intervention system as it provides services to your child and family.
About parent consent
You, as parents, have the right to decline any early intervention service without jeopardizing your child’s eligibility for other early intervention services. Parents may also revoke their consent for one or more services at any time.
Review and update of the IFSP
The IFSP is reviewed every six months and is updated at least once a year. You, as parents, are also part of that review and revision process. Together, you and the team will look at your child’s progress and decide how (or if) the IFSP needs to be changed to reflect your child’s growth toward the goals you’ve set, the family’s current situation, and so on.