Marco was recently referred to early intervention (EI) due to suspected global delays. His family is living in a homeless shelter and only has one more week left before they must leave. His father is trying hard to find employment but is challenged by his lack of childcare. He is the sole caregiver for three children under the age of four.
Nellie was discharged from the hospital three days ago following a very lengthy stay of 16 months. She is a preemie with many medical complications. Weight gain has been a challenge for her and will need to be closely monitored now that she is home. Her family is eager to get EI in place to assist with Nellie’s feeding skills and encourage her overall development.
For both Marco and Nellie, time is of the essence. Both families are newly referred to EI, and both would benefit from immediate support. But wait…the assessment calendar is full and it might take the whole 45 days allowed for the timeline to assess these children and develop their IFSPs. Can they wait that long??
The Interim IFSP
Both situations are examples of when writing an interim IFSP would be very appropriate. Interim IFSPs aren’t written very often. They can be viewed as sort of an emergency measure for eligible children who need supports and services to begin immediately. In Marco’s case, his family could benefit from service coordination to help them find housing immediately. A service coordinator may also be able to link Marco’s father locate child care options so that he is able to find employment. Because of Nellie’s extensive medical history and current feeding needs, initiating services for her is of utmost importance. Both families are in need of support, Both children are eligible for EI – Marco, based on his developmental delays and Nellie, based on her extended NICU stay, prematurity, and delays. Fortunately for them, you don’t have to wait until the assessment calendar is open to get the ball rolling.
Requirements for the Interim IFSP
An interim IFSP is a relatively simple document. Only four pieces of information are required: the name of the child, the name of the service coordinator, the service the child will receive, and the parent’s signature. The corresponding pages of the IFSP form can be used for the interim IFSP, with the words “Interim IFSP” written at the top of the first page. With the interim IFSP in place, services can begin immediately. It’s extremely important to remember that having an interim IFSP in place does NOT extend the 45-day timeline. A full IFSP must still be in place within 45 calendar days after the date of referral.
Using an Interim IFSP
Let’s check in on both situations to see how developing an interim IFSP helped:
Marco – Once Marco was found eligible, an interim IFSP was developed with Marco’s father to initiate more intensive service coordination to assist the family. The service coordinator completed other required documentation with Marco (such as procedural safeguards and release of information forms so she could speak with the social worker at the homeless shelter), and began the process of arranging the assessment for service planning and IFSP meeting. Marco’s father and the service coordinator worked together closely, talking almost everyday. The service coordinator helped obtain a one month extension with the homeless shelter. Within two weeks, though, Marco’s father had accessed several programs through his local Department of Social Services for rent assistance and a subsidy for child care so that he could look for employment.
Nellie – Following the intake, Nellie was found eligible for EI based on a review of her medical records. An interim IFSP was written and physical therapy began three days later. The physical therapist was able to assist Nellie’s parents and her nurse in determining positioning options for safe feeding. A speech-language pathologist also began seeing Nellie and worked closely with her family and nurse to monitor her caloric intake and begin working on oral motor exercises to help Nellie learn oral feeding. Nellie’s assessment for service planning was held about a month later and a full IFSP was developed. The PT and SLP continued to support Nellie’s family, and were happy to report at the assessment that Nellie was gaining weight and holding her head in midline better during feeding times.
The interim IFSP allowed both families to receive immediate support that helped to stabilize their challenging situations. While this type of IFSP is not used very often, it can be an important tool that allows eligible children and their families to receive the support they need right away.
Have you written an interim IFSP before? How did you know that it was the right thing to do?
Share you experiences using an interim IFSP in the chat below. Be sure to protect family confidentiality if you share a specific experience. 🙂