Resource : Special Education in US

In the United States, students with disabilities have a right to receive special education service. Special education is the education to address the individual differences and support the needs of students with disabilities, which help make curriculum accessible to all students. Students whose ages between 0 to 3 need Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) to receive special education whereas students whose ages between 3 to 18 need Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Individual Family Service Plan; IFSP(Age 0~3)

Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a plan for children whose age 0 to 3 with developmental delays to receive special education service. IFSP lists a child's current developmental level, developmental goals, and the services needed for accomplishing the goals. Because this plan is for young children, it requires more family involvement than Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The following are the criteria to receive IFSP (at least one of these conditions apply):

  • Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), or Traumatic brain injury (TBI), or
  • Low birth weight baby or premature baby, or
  • Environmental risk factors such as poverty, homeless, parental substance abuse, child abuse, or neglect

Procedures of Individual Family Service Plan

1. Identification and referral
If you see the signs of developmental delays in your child, you can refer the child to a hospital, school, or social service and find out the eligibility for IFSP. In many cases, referrals are made by a parent, pediatrician, teacher, or social worker. Once the referral was received by an appropriate agency, a service coordinator, who oversees and manages IFSP, will be determined. Service coordinator will soon contact the child's family and gather information about the child. Then, the service coordinator explain IFSP process to the family and seek prior approval from the child's parents (or guardian) to proceed with IFSP development.
2. Intake and family assessment
Service coordinator will gather information about the child's medical history and development. If the child has a disability (ex. Down syndrome), he/she is automatically eligible for IFSP. On the other hand, if the child's disability is not diagnosed yet, the child will be evaluated first. If the child is not eligible for IFSP, the service coordinator will introduce other services that may benefit the child and his/her family.
3. Development of IFSP
If the child is eligible for IFSP, service coordinator will start developing IFSP with the child's family. Service coordinator listens to the family's concerns and desires, make developmental goals, and decide the services necessary for the child.
4. Evaluation of IFSP
Later, service coordinator periodically reviews IFSP and make necessary changes, based on the chid's progress. Many children with IFSP will receive IEP when they reach age 3.