6 tips for creating your child’s IFSP

By Annie Stuart

Expert reviewed by Virginia Gryta, MS

An (IFSP) is the written game plan for your child’s services. By thinking ahead and bringing notes to the meeting, you’ll be better able to help shape the IFSP.

1. Define your family’s strengths, concerns, and priorities.

Think about these things before you meet with the team. It will help you get clear on what you need and what you have to offer. You might have questions like these: Will we need a translator for IFSP meetings? Will close family members be able to help since they live nearby? Should they be part of the IFSP team? Are communication skills or trouble with using a spoon the biggest concern for our child? What is working well at home and what isn’t?

2. List your child’s needs and abilities.

What is your child’s current level of functioning? What are your child’s current needs? Team members will want to know about physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional, and self-care skills. To help you prepare, think of examples like these: My child can drink from a cup and do finger feeding but has trouble using a spoon. My child mostly communicates with gestures and single words. My child is content to play alone. My child quickly has temper tantrums when having trouble communicating.

3. Identify the results you hope to see.

The IFSP will lay out concrete goals you want to achieve. In some cases, they will focus on what your child is learning. In other cases, they may focus on teaching you new things that can help your child. Here are examples of desired outcomes that parents include: Improve communication skills so we can understand what my child is saying. Improve my child’s ability to use a spoon. Improve the ability to use the toilet so my child doesn’t need a diaper during the day.

4. Know your early intervention services.

By knowing what services are available, you can help the IFSP team figure out which approaches might work best for your child. For example, is your child particularly responsive to music? Some programs include music therapy, which can help build skills such as listening comprehension. is another type of early intervention. The IFSP will spell out who is responsible for each intervention.

5. Figure out when and where your child receives services.

Is home the best place for your child to receive services? Kids must get services in places familiar to them whenever possible. If this isn’t possible, the IFSP must explain why. The IFSP will detail the number of days or sessions each week your child will receive a service. It will also spell out how long these sessions will last. For example, perhaps the speech and language expert will work with your child once a week for an hour each session to develop language skills.

6. Think about transition.

When kids get close to age 3, they transition out of early intervention. The IFSP will include specific steps to help your child transition into any other program. Your service coordinator will guide you. It may help to come up with a list of questions, though. For example, how will I know if my child is ready to attend a preschool? Can I visit the preschool and meet staff and children? By asking the right questions, you’ll both be prepared!

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