The IFSP is a document that outlines the types of early intervention services that a child will receive. A team of professionals, in conjunction with the child's family, develops the IFSP. As a paraprofessional, it is important to understand the IFSP—including how it is developed, how children are assessed, and how to support families through the process.
What does an IFSP include?
The major components of an IFSP include:
- A Cover Page that provides basic demographic information.
- A Levels of Development/ Child Outcome Ratings Page that documents the results of the assessment and provides a snapshot of the child's current level of development in comparison to same-aged peers.
- A Functional Outcomes Page that outlines the goals established for the child. Family input is critical for this section of the IFSP to make sure that the goals being established are consistent with family priorities and are delivered in the child's natural environment.
- The Authorized Service Plan Page is a detailed listing of the specific professional services that will be provided to the child, who will provide them, when and how often they will occur, and where the services will be provided.
- A Transition Page documents planning that has or will occur to facilitate any changes in services, especially when the child is nearing 3 years of age and begins the process of leaving early intervention services and entering early childhood services.
- An Implementation and Distribution Authorization Page verifies that legal safeguards and privacy rules have been followed.
- A Meeting Participants Page documents participants in the IFSP.
Detailed information about the IFSP is available from:
How are children assessed?
The assessment component of the IFSP will evaluate five areas of development:
- Physical - assesses fine and gross motor skills, how the child integrates with his/her environment, along with vision and hearing.
- Cognitive - assesses a child's thinking skills and how they process information.
- Communication - assesses a child's receptive (understanding) and expressive (producing) language abilities.
- Social/emotional - assesses how a child interacts with other children, adults and his/her environment.
- Adaptive - assesses self-help skills like dressing and feeding.
The child's assessment should stem from a multidisciplinary play-based evaluation.
A multidisciplinary assessment means a variety of professionals from different backgrounds will assess the child. Find out more on professionals in the field of early intervention.
A play-based evaluation means that the child will be observed while playing with other children and/or adults in a child-friendly environment.
The purpose of the assessment is to accurately document a child's abilities in order for the team to determine whether the child is eligible for early intervention services. If eligible, an appropriate IFSP will be developed for the child.
As part of the assessment a parent will be asked to provide input about their child's development and their family's priorities. Resources to help parents prepare for this portion of the IFSP are included in "Talking to Others."
Parents may also need general supports as they proceed through the IFSP process. "Tips for Your Child's Developmental Assessment," developed by Zero to Three, provides helpful tips for parents as they get ready for a developmental assessment.