IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan (Birth to 3 years old)

What Is an IFSP?

If your child has an eye condition, you may have found that a program of early intervention services will help you meet your child’s needs. Once professionals have determined your child’s eligibility for these services, you will meet with them to discuss your child’s specific needs and your family’s needs. This team will then create a document called an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates the IFSP, which outlines your child’s current situation and outlines the services required to support both your child’s development and your family’s efforts in aiding their development.

The IFSP explains the following:

  • Why your child needs services
  • What kind of services will be provided
  • Who will provide them, and how often
  • Where will the services be provided

Services Provided

A wide range of services may be provided through early intervention, depending on your child’s needs, including:

  • Audiological services to determine your child’s hearing ability
  • Vision services to assess whether or not he has usable vision and what sort of low-vision devices he may require
  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Special education services
  • Medical and nursing services
  • Nutritional services
  • Psychological and social work services
  • Health services necessary for your child to benefit from other early intervention services
  • Family training, counseling, and home visits
  • Transportation to enable your child and family to receive early intervention services
  • Respite care and other family support services

The law requires that early intervention services be provided in what are considered “natural environments”—places where your child would normally be found. These might include your home, a child care center, or a preschool rather than in a service provider’s office or at a vision care agency.

The Plan

The first step in writing the IFSP will be for the members of your child’s team to conduct various types of assessments to identify your child’s individual strengths and needs. As part of the assessment process, the team members will talk to you about your child and your hopes and concerns. The IFSP will include information about your child’s current level of development in the following areas:

  • Physical development
  • Cognitive development
  • Communication development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Adaptive development
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Overall health

The plan must also include information about your family’s concerns, priorities, and resources for promoting your child’s development.

Based on the information that has been gathered, the team, of which you are an important member, will then decide and write into the IFSP

  • the main outcomes expected for your child;
  • ways in which your child’s progress will be measured;
  • specific services that will be provided, their frequency, and how they will be delivered;
  • the environments in which services will be provided;
  • the dates and duration of services; and
  • steps that will be taken to support your child and family’s transition out of early intervention services.

As part of this process, a service coordinator is assigned to help your family by ensuring that the IFSP is implemented and coordinating the services outlined in the plan. The IFSP team needs to meet a minimum of once every six months to review the plan and make any necessary changes.

The IFSP and the Family

Your baby’s needs can’t be separated from the needs of the rest of the family. In recognition, early intervention services are designed to support your family and your child. There are other reasons why early intervention so strongly involves the family, including:

  • You, as a parent, are your child’s best teacher. Your family needs to continue working with your child at home on the lessons and skills introduced by the early intervention team. This process is called reinforcement.
  • Repeating at home the lessons and skills your child is learning will help him learn new activities and information more effectively and develop new skills.

To make the most of early intervention, discuss what you believe is important for your child to do and to learn with the service coordinator and other professionals working with your child. You have the right to request services to help your child succeed in reaching those goals. You can also ask these professionals about other sources of information that you think you need.

A toddler standing with support of parent.

Early Intervention Services for Children with Blindness or Low Vision

Infants begin learning about the world around them almost immediately. When a child is unable to gather information through the sense of sight, it’s essential to help get that information […]

Read more
A toddler boy reading a book and feeling braille while sitting on his mom's lap near a book case.

What’s Different About the Way Children with Blindness or Low Vision Learn?

Parents whose child has blindness or low vision may wonder what effect impaired vision will have on their child. There is no single answer that applies to all children. Your […]

Read more
A toddler working on a matching game with a therapist.

Education for Babies and Toddlers Who Are Blind or Low Vision

Parents as Teachers Although early intervention services can be invaluable for your child, as a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher from infancy through the preschool […]

Read more