An Individualized Family Service Plan is a plan for the future that families make with doctors, educators and other professionals when working with children who suffer from developmental delays and certain disabilities. Also known as an IFSP, it’s similar to an Individualized Education Plan, but an IEP will only come into effect once the child reaches school age. As the parent of a child with a developmental delay or handicap, or as someone working with one of those children, there are some things you should know about these plans.
It Has an Age Limit
One of the first things you should know about an IFSP is that it only applies to younger children. You can only create one of these plans for a child who is between the ages of a newborn up to three years old. Once the child reaches the age of three, professionals will need to create an IEP that goes over some of the ways you can help your child prepare for preschool and later kindergarten.
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There is a Time Limit
While you might think that you can put off creating one of these plans or take your time writing out the plan, you really only have a limited amount of time. According to The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center), you have just 45 days to come up with the plan once you get a referral. The referral must come from a professional with experience working with disabled and delayed children. You’ll then have the chance to meet with others and come up with a plan that includes both activities and set lessons before putting that plan in to action.
It Includes Regular Check Ups
Children grow and develop at different rates, which is why an IFSP must include regular check ups. These check ups typically take place at least once every six months, but you can increase or limit the frequency of those check ups based on how well your child performs. The check up allows teachers and others working with your child to decide if the plan should remain as-is or if they should make changes based on how the child progresses.
An ISFP Should Focus on the Future
Though an ISFP will focus on teaching your child practical skills that he or she can use today, it should also teach children skills they will use in the future. Developmental delays and certain disabilities can negatively impact a way a child focus in the classroom, interacts with other kids and even responds to teachers. The plan should include goals that children will meet by specific dates and include skills that will help them when they reach school such as how to pay attention to the teacher and raise their hands in class.
Families Must Participate
As the word family is right there in the phrase Individualized Family Service Plan, you should know that these plans rely on the help and support of both parents and any other family members in the household. Parents can spend time running practice exercises with their children to give them an idea of what they can expect later, and they can arrange for play dates with other children of the same age. The more active parents are, the more success they’ll see.
An ISFP is essentially a precursor to the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) used in schools today to help children suffering from disabilities and developmental delays. Also known as an Individualized Family Service Plan, it allows parents to work with professionals and create a plan to help their children do better today and when they enter school later.