Transitioning Out of an IFSP

It is too early to start thinking about preschool?

  • Breathe…Take a deep breath.
  • Remember, transitioning from early intervention to educational services doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process; you don’t need all the answers now. You can explore and discuss options. 

An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a plan for early intervention services that will be in place until your child turns three. The process of transitioning out of early intervention services, however, may start sooner than you think. You can prepare for these changes by understanding how your child will shift from having early intervention providers to school-based team members. 

It is key to work with your service coordinator to provide as much information to the school about the evaluations, services, and supports your child has been receiving. An open dialogue will help the school-based educational team determine the appropriate supports for your child in this new educational setting. 

What You Can Do Now

As your child transitions into preschool, many new people will engage with your child to understand their needs and abilities. Connecting with and getting to know this new team will help you feel more comfortable with this next big chapter of your child’s education. Understanding your options, the process itself, and your rights will empower you to ask tough questions and confidently advocate for your child. 

  • Explore options for preschool, including your local school preschool, private preschool, or state school. Each offer will have pros and cons for you and your family. 
  • Prepare a statement to share with the new team members at the meetings to help them get to know your child.  For instance, your child may be doing things at home that they didn’t do during an evaluation or vice versa.  In your statement,  share the wonderful things about your child, challenges your child may have, and future concerns you may want to make the new team aware of. This will help the school team understand your child better. 
  • Knowing your rights as a parent (and a very important member of your child’s team) can help you better understand the process and allow you to ask tough questions. 

Transition Process

The process for transitioning out of IFSP depends on the specific situation and the state or county in which you reside. However, here are some general steps that may occur during your transition process:

Evaluation or Report

Your current providers may utilize a few sessions to update an evaluation and write a report for the school or preschool your child will be entering. It’s important that all of your current providers share what they are working on and tips for working with or evaluating your child. Additional professionals or family members who help care for your child can also share information about your child. 

Assessment

Various school professionals from your child’s future school or preschool (such as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Orientation and Mobility instructor, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, etc.) will complete tests and assessments to determine if your child is still eligible for special education services.

Meeting

The school-based team members review the assessment results and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that will be in place on the first day of your child’s preschool. It is important to plan anything your child may need before starting school, such as learning to get on/off the bus and safely walking the school building to become familiar with the layout. If your child uses or needs a white cane, an Orientation and mobility specialist should also be part of the team. During the meeting, the team (you and the school-based team members) will agree upon IEP goals, how progress will be monitored and reported, and how to communicate concerns or how you can request another meeting. 

Who should attend your transition meeting?

  • Both parents or guardians (this may be a grandparent, friend, or extended family member) and possibly a notetaker
  • Any current early intervention service providers
  • The new preschool or school special education team, any team member who completed an assessment, and a local school district representative
  • Any other professionals or agencies you or the school determine should be involved in your child’s care or education

Here are just a few questions to consider asking during your meeting

  • What are the specific goals and activities that my child should work to achieve before starting at the school or program?
  • What services and supports will be available to my child in their new program or school, and how will they differ from those provided in their IFSP?
  • What kind of training and support will the teachers, staff, bus drivers, and nurses working with my child receive? 
  • How will my child’s progress be monitored and evaluated at the school or program, and what kind of feedback will be provided to me as a parent or family member?
  • What kind of communication and collaboration can I expect between my child’s new program or school and their healthcare providers, outside therapists, and other professionals who support our child?

Follow up

After your child transitions into the school setting, you may have additional meetings to ensure your child and you are adjusting well to the new school and to address any new needs or concerns. 

Remember that transitioning out of an IFSP and early intervention services is a gradual process, and it should be completed in a way that supports your child and your family’s needs and goals. Be sure to ask questions along the way to understand the process and ensure all concerns are addressed. An open line of communication will go a long way to support your child in this next chapter. 

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