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IFSPS in Pennsylvania


The federal government through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require any specific form for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs). In Pennsylvania, however, there is a set format that is used by each IEP/IFSP team. Pennsylvania forms are available on the website of the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN). In addition to the English language version forms linked below, forms are also available in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

In Pennsylvania, the IFSP form is used for both Early Intervention (EI) and Preschool Special Education. The form has the following 10 sections:

I. Demographics and IFSP Team Membership

This section includes the child's name, date of birth, address, and local school district. There is a place to list who referred the child to EI or preschool services. (Parents may refer their own child or a referral may come from a doctor, social worker, daycare staff, or other person who is in contact with the child.) The child's and parents' primary language is listed.

There is a box to check which asks if the parents have approved billing of Medical Assistance. Families are not required to allow the County to bill Medical Assistance. In Pennsylvania, Medical Assistance is available to children with certain disabilities regardless of financial circumstance.

When the IFSP meeting is held, each person in attendance will be asked to sign in on the IFSP form. Individuals who provided information to the team in advance of the meeting, but who did not attend also must be listed on the form.

The final portion of this section is a place to indicate whether or not the parents received a copy of the Parents Rights Agreement.

II. Child and Family Information

This section contains three subparts: (1) a summary of the child's present levels of performance; (2) a summary of information about the family; and (3) optional information provided to the family at its request about assistance available outside the Early Intervention (EI) system. Much of the information in this section will come directly from the Evaluation Report generated during the eligibility evaluation. It should capture team priorities and provide contextual information to be addressed throughout the remainder of the IFSP. The third subpart is where a wide range of supports should be listed, including referrals to community agencies (whether or not directly related to education of the child), community activities, support groups, etc.

III. Special Considerations

This section contains a list of eight questions which must be answered during the creation of the IFSP. If the answer to the question is "yes," the IFSP must include services to address the particular need identified. The eight questions are as follows:

  • Is the child blind or visually impaired?
  • Is the child deaf or hard of hearing?
  • Does the child exhibit behaviors that impede the child's learning or that of others?

Note: For children on the autism spectrum or for children who are exhibiting early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this question is frequently answered "yes." If this question is answered "yes," there must be a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and either a specific goal or specially designed instruction related to the child's behavioral needs OR a Behavior Intervention Plan.

Note: In the case of children who are culturally or linguistically distinct, a person of the child's cultural group should participate on the IFSP to explain or evaluate the behavior.

  • Does the child have limited English proficiency (for example, the child's home language is not English)?
  • Does the child have communication needs?

Note: This question is frequently answered "yes" by teams creating plans for children with an ASD diagnosis or early signs of ASD.

Note: Communication needs are determined by observations of daily interactions with a variety of communication partners (parents, professionals, and peers) in a variety of settings.

  • Does the child need assistive technology devices and/or services?
  • Is it anticipated that the infant/toddler will be transitioning from the Early Intervention program because of a transition in the life of the family and child?

Note: This box can be checked for children and families who may be moving, for children who are expected to quickly meet their goals and no longer be in need of services, or for children who will be transitioning out of the infant/toddler EI system because of age. Note: If a child is referred to Early Intervention fewer than 45 days before the child's 3rd birthday, the Early Intervention agency is not required to conduct an initial evaluation or IFSP meeting. Instead, the Early Intervention agency can refer to the preschool agency which determines special education eligibility and services for children when they turn 3.

  • Is this an IFSP for a toddler who is close to his/her second birthday?

Note: If the answer is "yes," the team should begin transition planning and complete Section X of the IFSP form.

IV. Outcomes/Goals

A goal will be developed to address each area of need identified in the child's evaluation. Each goal will have its own separate page in the IFSP, which will:

  • State the goal;
  • List the date the goal was developed;
  • Have a place to write the date when the goal is achieved;
  • Describe the child's current level of performance related to the goal and how it impacts the family's routines and activities;
  • Describe strategies needed to reach the goal, including the services which will be offered, the person who will be providing the services, where services will occur, and how often services will be delivered;
  • Describe how the team will measure progress and collect data related to the goal; and
  • Have a place to indicate when the goal was reviewed and the status of progress towards achieving the goal.

V. Services

This section of the IFSP is a listing of each service which the child or family is to receive. It is somewhat duplicative because each service should also be listed on at least one goal page. The location, start date, anticipated service end date, frequency of service, session duration, and funding information for the service must be listed. Additionally the name of the people (with contact information) who will deliver each service, gather child progress measurement information, review progress with the family, and complete a Child Outcome Summary Form must be listed.

If any service is projected to start later than 14 calendar days after the IFSP is completed, a justification letter must be attached to the IFSP.

If IFSP services for children under age 3 are not being provided in the Natural Environment, Section VII of the IFSP must be completed.

VI. Participation in Regular Early Childhood Programs

This section contains information on any early childhood programs the child attends, such as childcare, preschool, or Early Head Start. Attendance at an early childhood program is not usually covered by Early Intervention (EI) funds, but may be in certain circumstances. Whether or not it is paid for by the Preschool Special Education system depends on the program developed by the team.

VII. Participation with Typically Developing Children

The preferred location of delivery of Early Intervention services is the Natural Environment. If any services are not delivered in the Natural Environment, this section must be completed. The availability of services, disability category, or other program issues are not appropriate reasons for not providing services in the Natural Environment.
For preschool-aged children, the form must include an explanation and description of any activities in which the child will not take part with typically developing children.

VIII. Early Intervention Services during Scheduled Breaks – Preschool Only

This section of the IFSP is reserved for students in preschool programs (starting at age 3). For preschool-aged children, this section of the form is used to determine if the child is in need of Extended School Year services during breaks. In Pennsylvania, Early Intervention services for children under the age of 3 are available year-round, and do not have scheduled summer or winter breaks. This is not the case for children over the age of 3 who are receiving Preschool Special Educational services.

IX. Revisions to the IFSP

Any changes to the IFSP made after the initial plan development meeting must be documented on this page of the IFSP. Any revisions made without a team meeting require parent agreement. Each revision must include the date of the change, the name and role of team members involved in the revision, and the IFSP section amended and reason for doing so.

X. Transition Plan

This section of the IFSP lists activities and services designed to ensure a smooth transition from EI to Preschool Special Education services or from Preschool Special Education to school-age services. Much like the goals of the IFSP, the Transition Plan sets goals and describes the child's current levels of performance and how they impact the child, family, educator, daycare setting, etc. A "to-do" list of activities and services needed to ensure a smooth transition to the next service system is included, along with the name of the person responsible for completion, the date the activity should be completed, and the actual completion date. Examples of activities to be completed include: (1) gathering the child's progress measurement information; (2) reviewing the child's progress with the family; (3) preparing the child for changes in service delivery, including activities to help the child adjust to and function in a new setting; (4) with the parent's consent, sending evaluation data, copies of IFSPs, and other information to the preschool agency or school district; and (5) convening a meeting with the family and the program (if any) which will continue services.

The Transition Meeting must be a face-to-face meeting with parents and relevant personnel from the current system and the system the child is transitioning into.

Additional Resources

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.