Individual Family Service Plan

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An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a plan to obtain special education services for young children within U.S. public schools. It is provided by law to families of eligible children from birth to 3 years old. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is the federal law that provides eligible children with the right to special education services. Part B of IDEA addresses the services for children from ages 3 to 21. In some states, Part C regulates services for children from birth to three years old. IDEA works to protect and provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with developmental delays or specific health conditions.[1]

Parents have the right to request that their infant or toddler be assessed by a community agency or their home school district. They may first discuss it with their physician. An IFSP addresses the individualized needs of the child, concerns of the parents, and early intervention services. Provided through the referral process, a service coordinator works with the family to connect them with services based on the targeted needs of the child. According to IDEA part C, an at-risk infant is defined as an infant under 3 years old with developmental delays that will not likely improve without early intervention. Each state has their own specific criteria for eligibility. Under California’s education code, the infant must have at least a 33% delay in one or more areas of development. These areas include cognitive, emotional, adaptive, communication, social, motor, or other deficit. Possible services that families can obtain may include vision, hearing, speech and language services, occupational or physical therapy, and other specialized services areas.[2]

An IFSP is provided based on the concerns of the family and the child's needs. The plan must include: an assessment of a child's present levels of development, a statement of goals, support services that will be put in place to achieve those goals, date services will begin, and name and identification of the service coordinator.[3] It is used to provide supports and services that will enhance the child's development. A re-evaluation is usually done in 6-month intervals but can be done more often if necessary. Once a child turns 3 years old, a child is eligible to transition to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

How an IFSP is different from an IEP[edit]

An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a plan that guides the family and their child during the early years of development. Infants to children of the age of three years old can qualify for an IFSP and receive early prevention services. The main goal of an IFSP is to help the family as a whole, not just the child. However, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is connected to special education in the school setting and is a plan to provide services to children who are between the ages of three and twenty-one. An infant or toddler can have an IFSP and then qualify for an IEP once they turn three years old. Therefore, the goals that are put into place within an IFSP are targeted towards the family as a whole versus the goals within an IEP, which are targeted specifically towards only the student. An IFSP includes the locations of natural environments, such as home, parks, childcare, and gym classes. An IEP provides services to students within the school setting. This focus creates opportunities for learning interventions in everyday routines and activities.

How an IFSP is different from an IPP[edit]

IFSP stands for Individualized Family Service Plan, and is reserved for children aged 0–3. The same center that supplies children 0-3 with an IFSP also supplies adults and older children with an IPP, or Individual Program Plan.[4]

Parent Rights[edit]

Parents are entitled to certain rights in regard to their child's IFSP. It is required that they receive a full explanation of all of their rights. Parent rights include, but are not limited to, the ability to review their child's education record, the right to participate in meetings, have an outside evaluation of their child, obtain a prior written notice of evaluation, deny services or decisions, and file complaints.[5]


  1. ^ "Special Education: Federal Law vs. State Law".
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  4. ^ "Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) Effective Practice Guidelines". 2005. doi:10.1037/e527882010-001. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Parental Rights under IDEA | Center for Parent Information and Resources".