Unit 3 image

Welcome to Unit 3:
The IFSP Document

The IFSP Process starts with the initial contact with the family. This is where the family’s story starts to unfold and the provider and caregiver(s) begin to build a relationship. The IFSP document is just one part of this process.

The service coordinator, however, is responsible for compiling the written portion of the IFSP as it represents the formal agreement reached by the IFSP Team – which includes the family – and is required by HFS 90 and IDEA.  According to HFS 90, the service coordinator is responsible for convening a meeting to develop the initial IFSP within 45 days after receiving a referral for initial evaluation of a child. It not only reflects and records the process the team has gone through to identify outcomes, strategies and services, it becomes the legal basis for the provision of services. The IFSP document is the reference for any questions about the appropriateness of the services or the frequency, location, or intensity of these services and forms the legal basis for appeals and other formal decisions.

The following components must be included in the IFSP:

The IFSP document is meant to reflect a fluid process, responsive to the changing needs of a child and family. Service coordinators must have a method to track the changing needs and legal timelines related to the IFSP process for each family they work with. Consider reviewing the sample checklists referred to in Unit 2. There are four points in a child and family’s Birth to 3 timeline that are important for service coordinators to be aware of:

Resources are available on the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Training and Technical Assistance web site to assist you in understanding the legal requirements of the IFSP document. Where?

As mentioned earlier, it is those initial conversations with families which begin to build mutual trust and help develop an exceptional IFSP. Your discussions with families should follow an ecological perspective considering a family’s:

A major portion of the IFSP document will be devoted to developing and prioritizing child and family outcomes that are appropriate for intervention. These outcomes will be based on family routines as well as information learned from evaluations and assessments of the child's current level of functioning. Multiple tools are available to assist you, the family, and additional team members to identify family routines, functional outcomes and appropriate resources for intervention.

The article, Functional Intervention Planning: The Routines-Based Interview - (HTML version), from FPG Child Development Institute - Project INTEGRATE, gives practical tips on how to introduce the routines-interview, ask questions and have rich conversations with families about outcomes.

Some of the suggested questions to incorporate into a Routines-Based Interview (taken from the above article) might be:

Discovering Family Routines:
Other links are available on the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Training and Technical Assistance web site to assist you in helping a family identify their routines. Many of the links point to the Family-Guided Approaches to Collaborative Early-Intervention Training and Services (FACETS) web site. Where?

Writing IFSP outcomes can be creative, fun work for an IFSP team. Written outcomes are full of action and information. They suggest individualization and reflect a discussion that resulted in a collaborative outcome. The following are some guidelines:

Outcomes should state an end point that can be observed (i.e. sleep through the night; eat independently; communicate using a combination of words, signs & simple devices; have mobility to explore the environment; play with brother; have knowledge and resources about...) They should also include parent priorities and concerns as well as provider information gained from assessments. Look for outcomes to integrate information across developmental domains (not be simply an OT or a fine motor goal) and be sure to incorporate language that the parent understands or helped to write.

Other guidelines for outcomes include:

More Guidance on Writing Functional Outcomes:
Planning for Interventions within Naturally Occurring Routines and Activities (Adapted by WPDP for the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Programs from FACETS materials, Lindeman & Woods), can be used to assist the IFSP team in thinking about and writing appropriate functional outcomes.

One tool that may help a parent to determine their priorities and assist in developing functional outcomes is the Getting to Know Your Child worksheet - (HTML text-only version) (from FACETS materials, Lindeman & Woods)


Appropriate Resources for Intervention:

Application Station: Tools for Completing the IFSP
Become familiar with a new form or tool that might assist you and the team in completing an IFSP, or take the time to review your organization’s IFSP document. Complete Application Station: Tools for Completing the IFSP.

 * From Project INTEGRATE (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center) – an outreach project funded by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

 These modules were developed from a combination of materials, including:

  1. Pathways Service Coordination Project, Waisman Center-University of Wisconsin-Madison, funded by a number of grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. These materials were developed and field tested for several years within Wisconsin and several other states throughout the nation, leading to these publications: Pathways Trail Mix: A Collection of Ideas and Training Activities in Early Intervention Service Coordination (1999); Pathways in Early Intervention Service Coordination: A Video & Companion Guide (1996); and Pathways: A Training and Resource Guide for Enhancing Skills in Early Intervention Service Coordination (1996)
  2. Wisconsin Personnel Development Project/Birth to 3 RESource Training materials posted on the Birth to 3 Training and Technical Assistance Website
  3. Portage Project, CESA 5 Training Materials
  4. Materials and forms created by Wisconsin County Birth to 3 Programs
  5. Resources available on the Internet that have been developed by other programs throughout the country.