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CONTENTS OF AN IFSP

Understanding the Contents of an IFSP

An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed to outline the services that Early ACCESS providers will provide for a six month period of time. An IFSP is a “living” document that can change as the needs of the child and family change.

When developing an IFSP, the IFSP team must: 

  • Identify a child’s present levels of development;
  • Establish outcomes, sometimes called goals, for the child;
  • Determine how progress towards the outcomes will be monitored;
  • Determine the early intervention services and supports necessary to meet the child’s and family’s unique needs; 
  • Provide services in the child’s natural environment as much as possible; and
  • Make plans for transition out of Early ACCESS when the child turns three years old.

Resources, Priorities, and Concerns of the Family

The IFSP must include a statement of the family’s resources, priorities, and concerns. The IFSP must also identify the supports and services necessary to enhance the family’s ability to help their child grow and learn.

The Early ACCESS team, including the parent, will develop the child and family outcomes or goals based on the priorities and concerns of the family. The outcomes or goals will guide the work of the family and Early ACCESS staff so that the child can participate in everyday family and community activities.

Information about the Child’s Development

Each child under three years of age who is referred for evaluation or early intervention services and suspected of having a disability or developmental delay receives a timely, comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation. The evaluation information is used to determine child outcomes and services.

Establishing Child and Family Outcomes and Progress Monitoring

The IFSP must include a statement of the measurable outcomes expected to be achieved by the child and family. The outcomes must include:

  • Information on monitoring progress towards meeting the outcomes;
  • Criteria or ways to know when the outcome is achieved;
  • Strategies and activities to accomplish the outcomes; and
  • Timelines for when it is anticipated the outcome will be achieved.

The information is used to determine the progress made by the child and family and, if needed, making modifications to the IFSP.

For additional information on writing and monitoring functional, participation-based outcomes, see the following: Outcomes & Monitoring in Early ACCESS document, the Part C Tip Sheet on Progress Monitoring, and the information on outcomes from the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) for Early ACCESS

For children served in Early ACCESS, the goal is to enable them to be active and successful participants during their early childhood years and in the future in a variety of settings: in their homes with their families, in child care, preschool, or school programs, and in the community.  

Early intervention supports a child’s development in three outcome areas:

  • Showing positive social and emotional skills (social relationships);
  • Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (early language/communication and literacy); and
  • Use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs (self-help and motor skills).

For information on Early Childhood Outcomes, watch this video (8:44 minutes) the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.  

 

Early Childhood Outcomes Summary

The Early Childhood Outcomes Summary process is a team process for summarizing information about a child’s functioning across multiple sources of information.  The IFSP team, including the parents, considers information such as the results of observations of the child by parents or caregivers and results from direct assessments.

The IFSP team will summarize information on a child’s functioning in each of the three Early Childhood Outcomes areas.

To learn more about the process used to summarize a child’s functioning across multiple sources of information visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center where you will find modules that provide key information.

The IFSP team completes the Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Summary when the child enters Early ACCESS and when the child exits Early ACCESS.  If the child is transitioning to early childhood special education services, the final Early ACCESS exit ECO Summary is the entry ECO Summary for early childhood special education. 

For descriptions of the Early Childhood Outcomes, watch this video from the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

Early Intervention Services

Each IFSP documents the early intervention services and supports a child and their family receives to meet their unique needs. There are eight requirements a service must meet to be considered an early intervention service in Early ACCESS. 

The services must:

  1. Be provided under public supervision
  2. Be selected in collaboration with the parents
  3. Be provided at no cost to the family
  4. Be designed to meet the developmental needs of the eligible child and the needs of the family to assist their child’s development in any one or more of the following areas:
    1. Cognitive development (Examples: exploring own hands/toys, figuring out simple problems)
    2. Physical Motor development, including vision and hearing (Examples: grabbing things with fingers and hands, reaching, moving, crawling, walking, seeing, hearing)
    3. Communication development (Examples: making sounds, babbling, talking, listening, responding to others, and expressing wants or needs)
    4. Adaptive/self-help development (Examples: feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting)
    5. Social or emotional development (Examples: interacts with family and familiar adults, plays with others, follows simple rules) 
  5. Meet Iowa’s Early Learning Standards and the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C
  6. Are provided by qualified personnel
  7. To the maximum extent appropriate, are provided in natural environments, including the home or community settings in which children without disabilities participate
  8. Provided in conformity with an Individualized Family Service Plan that meets IDEA Part C requirements and rules, and are based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable

Documenting Services that are not Early ACCESS, IDEA Part C Services

Only Early ACCESS, IDEA Part C services should be listed as early intervention services on a child’s IFSP. Based on individual needs, the IFSP also must identify medical and other services that the child or family needs or is receiving through other sources, but that are neither required nor funded by Early ACCESS.  This information is recorded in the IFSP section titled Agencies/Programs Involved. Because these early childhood or family services support achieving child or family outcomes, service information is recorded as strategies (what will be done to reach an outcome and the IFSP team members responsible) in the outcomes section of the IFSP.

If the other services are not currently being provided, in the log notes, describe the steps the service coordinator or family may take to assist the child and family in securing those other services. Examples of other services the child or family might need and the service coordinator help the family connect with include:

  • Therapies from private providers
    • Music therapy
    • Hippotherapy
    • Physical therapy
  • Preparing a parent to take the General Educational Development (GED) Test
  • Continuing higher education for a parent

With parental consent, these other providers can participate as members of IFSP teams. Because these early childhood or family support services support achieving child outcomes, information is recorded in the Outcomes section of the IFSP under, “Strategies: What will be done to reach an outcome and IFSP team member(s) responsible.”

Timely Service Delivery

Services are required to start within 30 calendar days from the date parents sign the consent for services that are listed on an IFSP. Documentation in the service provider’s log notes are compared with the parental consent date to check if the first service was delivered within the required timeline. Iowa collects information on timely service delivery and reports the data to the federal Office of Special Education Programs.

Note: The IFSP meeting date cannot serve as the first service delivery date for providers unless the service provider’s log note for the delivery of their first service clearly documents a separate visit providing service to the child and/or family occurred following the initial IFSP meeting. The beginning time for the service should correspond to the ending time of the IFSP meeting. 

Below is a list of the various types of services that may be considered by IFSP teams, however, there is nothing in the IowaAdministrative Rules for Early ACCESS that prohibits the identification of another type of service.

 

For detailed information on Early Intervention Services

For additional information on Service Coordination

Natural Environments

Whenever possible, service coordinators and service providers should embed services and interventions into the child’s natural routines and within the child’s natural environments.

Natural environments are the settings that are natural or typical for a same-aged infant or toddler without a disability and may include the home, friend or relative’s home, backyard, parks, stores, or other community settings.

Early intervention services may occur in a setting other than a natural environment only if the parent and IFSP team determines that early intervention cannot be achieved satisfactorily for the child in a natural environment and must be based on the evaluation and assessment conducted and the child’s outcomes. If the parent and IFSP team determines that a specific service must be provided in a setting other than a natural environment, such as a center-based program that serves only children with disabilities, an office, or clinical/hospital settings, explanations that justify the setting that is not a natural environment must be included in the child’s IFSP.

The provisions on natural environments do not apply to services listed in an IFSP that are intended to meet the needs of a parent or other family member and not the needs of the child, such as participation of a parent in an adult support program.

Transition from Early ACCESS

Early ACCESS services are provided until:

  • a child’s third birthday;  
  • until the child is no longer eligible; or 
  • there is no longer a need for early intervention services. 

Service coordinators begin discussing the transition from the early contacts with families to support their understanding of early intervention services ending for a child at the age of three.

Transition Practices

Transition practices are an intentional set of activities that promote communication between sending (Early ACCESS) and receiving (preschool, etc.) practitioners, engage families in collaborative planning, and support the preparation and adjustment of children and families to a change in settings or programs. Central to these practices is a close, positive relationship between the child and family and the teacher/practitioner in the receiving program.

Division of Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices associated with transition:

  • Transition Practice One (TR1): Practitioners in sending and receiving programs exchange information before, during, and after transition about practices most likely to support the child’s successful adjustment and positive outcomes.
  • Transition Practice Two (TR2): Practitioners use a variety of planned and timely strategies with the child and family before, during, and after the transition to support successful adjustment and positive outcomes for both the child and family.

Communication and collaboration with parents and other practitioners are critical to ensure continuity and alignment of services and supports for children and families. Using a family-centered approach to transition is an effective means to support their adjustment. This involves preparing the family as well as the child for anticipated changes as a result of moving into a new program or setting.

For more training and support on transition practices, go to The Early Childhood Recommended Practice Modules (RPMs), Module 2: Transition and ECTA: The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, Practice Improvement Tools for Transition.

Transition Planning

  • Planning for transitioning out of Early ACCESS occurs between no less than 90 days and no more than 9 months prior to the child’s third birthday. All toddlers must have a written transition plan as part of their IFSP by the time they are 2 years 9 months of age. 
  • For a toddler who is potentially eligible for early childhood special education services, with the approval of the family, the service coordinator convenes a transition conference to discuss services and includes the family, Early ACCESS staff and staff from the Area Education Agency of the toddler’s residence who are knowledgeable about early childhood special education services.  The transition conference can be held at the same time as the transition planning meeting.
  • For a toddler who is NOT potentially eligible for early childhood special education services, the transition conference to discuss services is optional. If convened, participants include the family, Early ACCESS staff, and staff from the community program(s) the child might attend.  The transition conference can be held at the same time as the transition planning meeting.
  • A transition meeting is required for all toddlers prior to the age of 2 years 9 months to develop a written transition plan.  The meeting must be held in conjunction with an initial, periodic, or annual meeting and include all required meeting participants.  All procedures for holding an initial, periodic, or annual meeting must be followed.
  • Transition planning meetings must be held in settings and at times that are convenient for the family and in the native language of the family or other mode of communication used by the family unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.
  • Meeting arrangements must be made with, and written notice provided to, the family and other participants early enough before the meeting date to ensure that they will be able to attend.
  • Planning includes developing steps and services to be taken to support the smooth transition of the toddler and the toddler’s family to prepare for exiting Early ACCESS and entering a new setting.  
  • Steps for all toddlers include:
    • Identifying transition services and other activities that the IFSP team determines are necessary to support the transition of the child to a new setting;
    • Discussions with, and training for, parents, as appropriate, regarding future settings and any other matters related to the child’s transition; and
    • Strategies to prepare the child for changes in service delivery, including steps to help the child adjust to, and function in, a new setting.
  • IFSP teams must complete the Early Childhood Outcome process upon the child’s exit from Early ACCESS.  Determine how and when team decisions will be made.

When a parent declines to hold a transition meeting, the service coordinator should: 

  • Inform the parent that they have the right to decline the transition meeting.  
  • Inform the parent that if they have concerns about their child’s development in the future, they can contact the area education agency to request assistance in resolving educational or developmental difficulties or request an evaluation. 
  • Follow the transition Pathway to Community-based Services without the step to hold a transition meeting and document that the parent declined to hold a transition meeting.

Late Referrals

If the child is referred to Early ACCESS between 46 and 90 days prior to the child’s third birthday AND if eligible for Early ACCESS, the transition planning meeting will be held in conjunction with the initial IFSP meeting. The IFSP team should follow the procedures for the transition planning pathway to community programs or the pathway to early childhood special education, whichever is appropriate for the child’s options. 

If the child is referred to Early ACCESS fewer than 45 days prior to the child’s third birthday, the child is referred to early childhood special education (IDEA Part B) and will not enter the Early ACCESS system; therefore, transition planning is not required.

Two Transition Planning Pathways

There are two transition planning pathways for children and their families who are preparing to exit Early ACCESS:

  • Transition from Early ACCESS (IDEA Part C) to community-based services
  • Transition from Early ACCESS (IDEA Part C) to Special Education (IDEA Part B)

IFSP teams must analyze and discuss ongoing child and family assessment data to determine which transition pathway the team will follow prior to conducting the transition meeting where written transition plans are developed. 

For additional guidance on transition planning, read and use The Transition Toolbox: A Guide for Families.

Transition to Community-based Services

Pathway to Community-based Services: If data suggests a child is comparable to same-age peers and the IFSP team has no concerns about the child’s development without specialized educational supports and services, then the IFSP team follows procedures for the transition to community-based services and exit from Early ACCESS.

All transition planning meetings happen in conjunction with an initial, periodic, or annual meeting. Follow the procedures for the specific meeting type and complete these additional procedures for transition planning.

Prior to the Meeting for Transition Planning

The service coordinator will:

  • Initiate discussion with the family about the current services, unless this is an initial meeting and potential community service options including eligibility requirements and enrollment details.
  • Work with the family to create a vision for the future for their child using the Transition Toolbox, Step One.
  • Provide information to the family about the transition process using the Transition Toolbox, Step Two, and Step Three.
  • Review and provide the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents.
  • Complete the Consent to Release and Exchange Information with other programs or agencies that are under consideration for the child.
At the Meeting for Transition Planning
  1. The team, including the parents, share progress on the IFSP outcomes, parent’s vision for their child, the transition process, and any concerns.
  2. The team and community program staff, if they attend the meeting, discusses potential services for the child when they turn three.
  3. Begin documentation in all sections of the written IFSP transition plan.
After the Meeting for Transition Planning
  • The IFSP team, including the family, implements the transition plan.
  • The service coordinator monitors and assists with transition plan activities and services.
  • Update the transition plan as steps and services are completed.
  • The IFSP team provides ongoing assessment information to future service providers as needed and allowed by consent.
  • The service coordinator prepares for the child’s exit from Early ACCESS.

Transition to Special Education

Pathway to Early Childhood Special Education (IDEA Part B): Regardless of the child’s present level of development at transition planning, if there are concerns about continued development if specialized educational supports and services are not received, then the IFSP team follows procedures for the child who is potentially eligible for Part B early childhood special education services and exit from Early ACCESS.

All transition planning meetings happen in conjunction with an initial, periodic, or annual meeting.  Follow the procedures for the specific meeting type and complete these additional procedures for transition planning.

Prior to the Meeting for Transition Planning

When a disability is suspected, the IFSP team collaborates with the area education agency staff who are knowledgeable about early childhood special education to do transition planning.  The IFSP team ensures that timely transition planning occurs to support children’s transition planning for special education eligibility.

The service coordinator will:

  • Initiate discussion with the family about the current services, unless this is an initial meeting, early childhood special education service options, and involvement of area education agency special education staff in transition discussions and planning.
  • Work with the family to create a vision for the future for their child using the Transition Toolbox, Step One.
  • Provide information to the family about the transition process using the Transition Toolbox, Step Two.
  • Review and provide the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents.
  • Explain options for when the child turns 3 years old which includes disability suspected and consideration of a full and individual initial evaluation to determine eligibility for early childhood special education services.
  • Determine with the family who should attend the planning meeting which must include the early childhood special education staff.
  • Arrange for area education agency special education staff to attend the transition planning meeting so they can assist in discussing:
    • Special education eligibility criteria;
    • Timelines and parental consent for evaluation, eligibility determination and Individualized Education Program meeting; and
    • Potential special education services and supports.
  • Provide training and information to parents about the transition process using the Transition Toolbox, Step Three.
  • With family permission, contact the local Family & Educator Partnership representative and ask them to offer support during transition. Provide them with the family contact information.
  • Ensure that child find information is transmitted to the area education agency (AEA) as well as any additional information needed by the AEA to ensure continuity of services from Early ACCESS to early childhood special education, including a copy of the most recent evaluation and assessments of the child and the family and the most recent IFSP.
At the Meeting for Transition Planning
  1. The team, including the parents, share progress on the IFSP outcomes, parent’s vision for their child, the transition process, and any concerns.
  2. The IFSP team, including the area education agency special education (AEA) staff, analyzes data to determine if the child is suspected of having a disability and if a Full and Individual Initial Evaluation is warranted following the AEA Special Education Procedures for Child Find. When a disability is suspected,
    1. Document the information on the Disability Suspected Form
    2. Provide and review  Part C Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents and Part B Special Education Procedures: Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents
    3. Indicate on the transition plan that the child will be referred for Part B eligibility determination.
    4. Area education agency special education staff consider if a disability is suspected and there is a need for special education services, shares information about special education including, but not limited to:
      1. Special education eligibility criteria;
      2. Timelines and parental consent for evaluation, eligibility determination and Individualized Education Program meeting; and
      3. Potential special education services and supports.
  3. When a child is suspected of having a disability, parents have the right to either grant consent or decline consent to pursue the full and individual evaluation in order to determine eligibility for special education services. Informed parent consent must be obtained prior to conducting a full and individual initial evaluation and is documented with a signature on the Consent for/Notice of Full and Individual Initial Evaluation.
    1. If the parent does not provide consent for a full and individual initial evaluation:
      1. Indicate on the IFSP transition plan that the parent declines consideration for special education eligibility determination.
      2. Follow special circumstances regarding parental consent in Special Education Procedures Manual.
  4. The team reviews current IFSP information in order to plan for any needed evaluations and assessments.  
  5. The team discusses potential services for the child at age three:
    1. Special education instructional, support and related services in the least restrictive environment; and
    2. Other community resources and services.
  6. Discussion must include services needed from the child’s third birthday through the remainder of the school year and must be documented on the IFSP transition plan. 
  7. Discuss parent consent for the transfer of records: 
    1. Information may be transmitted including evaluation and assessment information, copies of the IFSP and other records, to the area education agency (AEA) and school district without parent consent. 
    2. Consent is needed to share information with other programs and agencies (not the AEA and school district).
    3. The service coordinator will inform families before records are sent.
  8. Begin documentation in all sections of the written IFSP transition plan.
  9. Discuss important timelines (60 days) for obtaining parental consent for the full and individual initial evaluation and holding the Initial IEP meeting.
After the Meeting for Transition Planning
  • The IFSP team, including the family, implements the transition plan.
  • The service coordinator monitors and assists with transition plan activities and services that are non-special education-related.
  • Update the transition plan as steps and services are completed.
  • The IFSP team provides ongoing assessment information to future service providers as needed and allowed by consent.
  • The service coordinator prepares for the child’s exit from Early ACCESS. 
  • The special education staff:

 

IFSP Components

For additional information on the content of an IFSP is available on our Resources page.