Tip #17: Parents: Have a clear understanding of your child’s current challenges and the goals you have in mind before your first IFSP meeting so you can share with the team. For example: “My daughter can eat with a fork and spoon, but has trouble cutting food.” Or, “My son communicates verbally, but can be hard to understand.”

Two Asian parents cradle their baby and look lovingly at him. IFSP meetingThe Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a family-centric process designed to help children with special needs become more engaged and independent in their everyday activities and lives. Your family’s service coordinator and early intervention providers are here to help your child thrive for the rest of their lives by achieving functional and meaningful outcomes through their IFSP.

The IFSP is a “living document,” meaning it is created to suit each family’s needs and receives periodic reviews and updates. Families can expect these reviews every six months, followed by annual meetings for in-depth evaluation and revision.

Make the most of these annual meetings. Be ready to discuss your family’s everyday routines and activities, how your child and your family function within those routines and activities, and your concerns and priorities.

Be specific about your child’s abilities and your concerns during these discussions. Note what they do well, what they could do better, and why you are concerned about their progress. Your IFSP team will consider this information, as well as your family’s overall strengths, to develop and prioritize positive outcomes for your child.

These meetings also allow time to identify the services needed for each outcome. Services must take place in a natural environment; in other words, services must include activities or settings that are typical for the child’s peers without disabilities or delays.

While your service coordinator and early intervention providers are key to helping your child achieve meaningful outcomes, never underestimate the role you play as a parent or family member. Your involvement is integral – consider the ways you would like to be involved in your child’s services.

You know your child best. Being prepared to tell your IFSP team about your child will help them deliver the best possible services and outcomes from the beginning.