Individual Family Service Plan Basics

Before you can begin to receive early intervention services you must have an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). This is a plan that outlines a course of treatment and therapy plan for your child. It will include goals for your child’s development and will schedule evaluations to ensure that these goals are being achieved. The plan will encompass therapies and supports needed both at home and at child care centers. You may hear this called your child’s “natural environment.”

Who develops a child’s IFSP?

A team of child development experts will meet with you to provide input about what services might benefit your child. The composition of the team may vary, but they typically includes a pediatrician, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a social worker, and an early childhood special education teacher. The one constant on every IFSP is you, the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s).

What happens at the meeting?

During the meeting the results of your child’s evaluation will be reviewed and the special needs of your child will be determined. While evaluations used by states are sometimes different, they generally cover the same general categories: communication, social/emotional, physical/motor development, self-help skills, and cognitive readiness skills.

The team will set goals to improve upon the areas in which your child needs help. Services can be provided in your home as well as your child’s day care center, head start programs, hospitals, clinics, or early intervention centers. Speak up if you don’t feel comfortable with a location suggested by the team. Different locations can usually be worked out.

What happens after the meeting?

Once the IFSP is completed, your child can start to receive services that will help him/her achieve his/her goals. The therapist and social workers on your IFSP team will monitor the progress of your child. As your child meets his or her goals they will reconvene the team and help set new goals. It is important to recognize that the Individual Family Service Plan is not set in stone, it can be changed at any time to fit the needs of your child.

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