Early Intervention: Family Support plans

Family Support Plans

Individual Family Support Plans are a treatment plan for Early Intervention Services for children with disabilities from birth to age three. The Family Support Plan is different from an Individual Education Plan. The Family Support Plan takes a family-based approach to services. The Plan is developed with input from the child’s entire family and is designed to support the entire family. The Plan is based on Early Steps evaluation and the family’s concerns. Families receive support to develop the skills and gain the confidence needed in helping their child as they develop. Most of the services are provided in the home to enable the family to continue to provide the child with developmentally appropriate learning opportunities every day.

A service coordinator is assigned to each child referred to Early Steps. The service coordinator helps to organize how the services and supports listed on the IFSP will be provided. The service coordinator will:

  • Conduct First Contact activities and discuss current concerns of family
  • Arrange and facilitate Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) meetings in settings that are comfortable and convenient to the family and that will help the family participate as a full team member
  • Assist the child and family in receiving the Early Steps services and supports listed on your Individualized Family Support Plan and assist with transition activities once the child turns 3.
  • Ensure Procedural Safeguards
  • Contacts the family at least every three months by telephone or face-to-face
  • Talk to you about your family’s satisfaction with the supports and services you are receiving
  • Provide information that will help your family with your child’s development including information on parent support and advocacy organizations

Parents are the most knowledgeable source when it comes to a child’s needs. Drafting a plan is a family-centered process that involves the family and professionals. The IFSP helps coordinate resources, supports and services to meet the family and child’s needs. IFSPs are developed using information discussed with the family such as:

  • How the child is growing and learning
  • Immediate needs related to the child’s development based on family concerns, priorities and resources.
  • The family’s routines, schedules and environments
  • Goals and outcomes the family has for the child and the services that will help the family and child reach these goals and outcomes
  • Activities that will help the child transition to other services when turning three.

How does individual \Family Support Plans help the person with a disability or family support system?

Early intervention is crucial in brain development. Early Intervention supports families to increase their child’s participation in daily activities and routines.

How may a parent/caregiver gain access to IFSP?

Families who have a concern about their child’s development can have their child evaluated through Early Steps. Often families are referred to Early Steps through their pediatrician.

Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books IFSP:

pacer.org: This article provides a step by step view of what an IFSP plan development should take into consideration. Read this first! Click Here

pacer.org: Frequently Asked Questions about IFSPs. Click Here This article provides answers to questions the specific roles of people who may be on a child’s IFSP team, how information is collected and used, and many other questions families may have.

cms-kids.com: Florida’s Early Steps System – describes what the Individual Family Support Plan is and how it is implemented in Florida. Click Here for the website.

Below are short videos that demonstrates and explains early intervention home visits.

In English:  Early Intervention Home Visits

In Spanish:  Visitas de Domilicio de Intervención Temprana

cms-kids.com: Florida Early Steps Directory provides a listing of statewide information and resources for parents and caregivers of children with diagnosed or suspected development delays or disabilities from birth to age three. Click Here for the Directory.

Click Here for the Individualized Family Support Plan 2008 Instructions for completing the Early steps IFSP Form

cms-kids.com: For Early Steps Program COVID-19 Resources Click Here

Questions or observations parents should consider when working with Early Steps in developing IFSPs:

  • Base your decisions on a vision for your child’s future. This article provides advice to parents from parents of children with disabilities. Click Here
  • What do I want my child to learn?
  • What help does my child need to learn and develop?
  • Are there other supports my family needs (for example, support for my other children’s needs, how do I talk to other family members and close friends about my child’s disability, finding child care to meet my child’s needs)
  • Who do I want to be on the IFSP team (do I want a member from religious organization, language interpreters, advocacy support, my child’s health advocate)


Children’s Medical Services. Florida’s Early Steps System

Children’s Medical Services. Family involvement in early steps.

Florida Health.gov. Early steps.

Pacer Center, Inc Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center. Early childhood family information and resources

Special Education Guide. The who, what, why of an individualized family service plan (IFSP)

Written by: Iris Neil