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INDIVIDUALIZED FAMILY SERVICE PLAN TEAMS

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The Purpose of an IFSP Team

An IFSP team includes the parent and two or more individuals from separate disciplines or professions. One of these individuals must be the service coordinator. Each IFSP team member should be knowledgeable or have special expertise about the child and the early intervention services that could benefit the child and family. The IFSP team members discuss and collaborate to develop, review, and revise an IFSP.

IFSP Team Members

For each initial and annual IFSP meeting,  the IFSP team should include the following members: 

  • The parent or parents of the child
  • Other family members, as requested by a parent, if feasible to do so
  • An advocate or person outside the family, if a parent requests that the person participate in the meeting
  • The service coordinator designated by the agency to be responsible for implementing the IFSP
  • A person or persons directly involved in conducting the evaluations and assessments 
  • As appropriate, persons who will be providing early intervention services to the child or family

For periodic review meetings, provisions must be made for the participation of the following:

  • The parent or parents of the child.
  • The service coordinator designated by the agency to be responsible for implementing the IFSP.
  • If conditions warrant, a person or persons directly involved in conducting the evaluations and assessments. 
  • If conditions warrant, persons who will be providing early intervention services to the child and family as appropriate.

For transition meetings (early intervention to early childhood special education evaluation) the IFSP team must include an AEA staff member(s) who is qualified to determine eligibility for special education services. 

IFSP Team Roles & Responsibilities

Parent

Role of a Parent:

The parents of an eligible child are equal participants with Early ACCESS personnel in developing, reviewing, implementing, and revising the IFSP.

Parents are asked to:

  • Share information regarding their child’s strengths, interests, and preferences,
  • Share information on family priorities, strengths, interests, and preferences,
  • Identify their concerns and hopes regarding their child’s learning and development,
  • Assist in the development of IFSP outcomes, and
  • Identify any support that they might need to assist in implementing the IFSP.

Who can fill the role of Parent?

In general, a “parent” could be:

  • A biological or adoptive parent of a child,
  • A guardian (if authorized to act as the child’s parent in all matters or if the guardian is specifically authorized to make educational decisions for the child),
  • An individual such as a grandparent, stepparent, or another relative with whom the child lives and is acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent,
  • An individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare, and/or
  • A surrogate parent.

Who can’t fill the role of a parent?

In general, a “parent” may not be:

  • A foster parent,
    • A foster parent may not, by virtue of his or her foster parent status, be deemed a person acting as the parent of an eligible individual for special education purposes. However, foster parents are not precluded from acting as a parent and other circumstances may allow a foster parent to serve as a parent:
      • A foster parent may act as a parent if assigned as a surrogate parent.
      • A foster parent may act as a parent if the foster parent is an individual such as a grandparent, stepparent, or another relative with whom the child lives and is acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent.
  • A public or private agency involved in the education or care of a child, or
  • An employee or contractor with any public or private agency involved in the education or care of the child in that employee’s or contractor’s official capacity.

Specific examples of agencies and individuals who may not serve in the role of “parent” include the Department of Human Services or agencies contracted by the Department of Human Services or caseworkers involved in the care of a child.

May an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare act as a Parent?

Yes, an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare may act in the place of a biological or adoptive parent. The individual must reside with the child (residence creates the legal responsibility for the child’s welfare). Examples include:

  • An unmarried partner of the child’s parent.
  • Another adult with whom the child lives (such as a neighbor).

What is a surrogate parent and when would one be appointed?

The appointment of a surrogate parent for the purposes of early intervention/special education planning and programming is made when:

  • No parent can be identified,
  • After a reasonable effort, no parent can be located, or
  • The child is a ward of the state.

When it is necessary to appoint a surrogate parent, the IFSP team must complete the Surrogate Parent Recommendation Form (Early ACCESS).

 

Service Coordinator

Role of a Service Coordinator:

Service coordinators serve as a representative of the Early ACCESS system of early intervention services. They have five major roles:

  1. Partner with each family in continuously seeking the appropriate services, resources, and supports necessary to benefit the development of each child being served for the duration of the child’s eligibility.
  2. Assist the family in accessing early intervention services and resources from a variety of informal supports and/or formal community agencies or providers.
  3. Facilitate communication among early intervention service providers across agencies, resulting in a more coordinated and responsive delivery system.
  4. Use family-centered practices in all contacts with families.
  5. Assure the development and implementation of the IFSP within the required timelines.

Service Coordinator responsibilities include:

Each eligible infant and toddler and their family must have one service coordinator who is responsible for:

  • Explaining the system of services and resources called Early ACCESS.
  • Assisting parents of infants and toddlers with disabilities in obtaining access to needed early intervention services and other services identified in the IFSP, including making referrals to providers outside the Early ACCESS system for needed services and assisting parents in scheduling appointments for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
  • Coordinating the provision of early intervention services and other services (such as educational, social, and medical services that are not provided for diagnostic or evaluative purposes) that the child needs or is being provided.
  • Coordinating evaluations and assessments.
  • Facilitating and participating in the development, review, and evaluation of IFSPs.
  • Conducting referral and other activities to assist families in identifying available early intervention service providers.
  • Coordinating, facilitating, and monitoring the delivery of required services to ensure that the services are provided in a timely manner.
  • Conducting follow-up activities to determine that appropriate early intervention services are being provided.
  • Informing families of their rights and procedural safeguards.
  • Coordinating the funding sources for services.
  • Conducting referral and other activities to assist families in identifying available early intervention service providers.
  • Facilitating the development of a transition plan to preschool, school, or, if appropriate, to other services.

The Individual who conducted Evaluations & Assessments

The individual(s) directly involved in conducting the evaluation and assessments must participate in the IFSP meeting. If the individual(s) are unable to attend a meeting, arrangements must be made for the person’s involvement through other means, including one of the following:

  • Participating in a telephone call or video conferencing.
  • Having a knowledgeable authorized representative attend the meeting.
  • Making pertinent records available at the meeting.

The evaluator may or may not become a member of the IFSP team. The IFSP team will be determined based on child/family priorities and concerns.

Role of an Individual who conducted Evaluation/Assessments:

The evaluation of the child must be multidisciplinary meaning the evaluation must have evaluators from at least two different disciplines. A single person may be able to complete an evaluation if they are an individual who is qualified in more than one discipline or profession.

The individual(s) who conducted the evaluation and assessments will share the results during the IFSP meetings when the IFSP is making eligibility and service planning decisions.

Responsibilities of Individual who conducted Evaluation/Assessment:

Individuals who are responsible for the evaluation shall ensure, at a minimum:

  • No single procedure is used as the sole source of information for determining a child’s eligibility for Early ACCESS.
  • Procedures include: administering an evaluation instrument; taking the child’s history including interviewing the parent; identifying the child’s level of functioning in each of the developmental areas; gathering information from other sources such as family members, other caregivers, providers, social workers, and educators, to understand the full scope of the child’s strengths and needs; and reviewing medical, educational, or other records.
  • All areas of development are evaluated.
  • All evaluations are conducted in the native language of the child unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.
  • All evaluation procedures and materials are selected and administered so as not to be racially or culturally discriminatory.
  • Evaluations are conducted by qualified personnel in a nondiscriminatory manner.
  • The evaluation is completed and the initial IFSP meeting is held within 45 calendar days of referral.
  • There is no cost to parents.

Service Provider

Service providers provide direct service to the child and family. Depending on the service, a service provider may be a therapist, educator, and other professional.

Role of a Service Provider(s):

  • Serve as a member of the multidisciplinary IFSP team.
  • Get to know families’ daily activities, priorities, and needs for their child.
  • Plan and practice interventions that can be used by the parent or caregiver throughout the day in existing routines and activities of the child and family.
  • Provide support to families by coaching them to help their child grow and learn.

Responsibilities of Service Provider(s):

  • Share information regarding the child’s present levels of development and functional performance.
  • Assist in the development of IFSP outcomes and strategies to meet the outcomes.
  • Assist in developing intervention strategies that meet family priorities and concerns.
  • Assist in identifying routines and activities to embed intervention strategies.
  • Assist in identifying the full range of strategies and services the child may need to be successful in the natural environments for infants and toddlers.
  • Collect and share information regarding progress toward an identified outcome.

 

Other Possible Participants

In the process of developing an IFSP for an eligible infant or toddler, it may be appropriate for IFSP teams to invite, per the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child to participate in the IFSP meeting.

With consent from the parent, these individuals may include:

  • A primary health care provider or designee.
  • Referral source and agencies outside the Early ACCESS system providing direct and ongoing services.
  • Community partners.

NOTES:
If the parent invites legal counsel to attend the meeting, the public agency should also have legal counsel present. If the parent does not inform the public agency they are bringing legal counsel, the public agency may reschedule the IFSP meeting to ensure their legal counsel is present.

IFSP Team Member Resources

For more information and clarification on IFSP team member roles and responsibilities, please visit our Resources page.