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Module Two: Lesson Two

Functional Intervention Planning: Early Steps Policies and Procedures

In the following table, you can see specifically how the Early Steps Service Delivery Policy and Guidance Paper addresses the implementation of Functional Intervention Planning.

Model Component Specific Practice
2. Functional Intervention Planning Purposes:
  • To continue to establish positive relationship with the family
  • To obtain family's concrete priorities for the IFSP
  • To assess function and needs
Routines-Based Interview
Early Steps Policies and Procedures

Early Steps incorporates all three of the purposes for Functional Intervention Planning into its service delivery system. This is reflected in the policies and procedures for Family Assessment, Child Assessment, and IFSP Development.

The following passages from the Early Steps Service Delivery Policy and Guidance Paper emphasize the role of functional intervention planning in the service delivery system.

Family Assessment
The purpose of family assessment is to gather information from the family and to identify with the family their concerns, priorities, and resources, and the family's everyday routines, activities and places.

Combining the curriculum or instructional objective results of the assessment with the information in the family assessment provides the team with the tools they need to develop strategies to address the family's concerns and priorities.

In addition to the assessment of the child's participation in typical activity settings, the team should begin to note the preferred learning styles of the family and other primary caregivers, as they will be the primary learners in the intervention process. (pg. 36)

IFSP Development
Functional outcomes on the IFSP are statements about what the family wants to change in relation to a daily routine or family activity that is impacted by their child's disability. Strategies on the IFSP indicate the activities that the family or caregivers will perform to support the child's acquisition of basic skills needed to obtain the functional outcome and enhance development. (pg. 38)

Outcomes and strategies on the IFSP reflect the basic skills that the child will learn to enhance development. Basic skills are those that can be embedded into natural routines and activities in which the child and family participate (e.g., expressing wants and needs, initiating social interactions, grasping/holding objects, holding head up, feeding self, demonstrating cause-effect relationships). The strategies identified for each outcome statement reflect the specific natural routines and activities in which the skills can be embedded (e.g., strategies to encourage the child to express wants and needs may be targeted during mealtimes when a child wants a drink or another bite of food). In addition, these routines and activities are those identified as priorities by the family through an ecological assessment, with attention to both the home and community environments. Adaptations and supports needed to assure that the outcome is achieved are mentioned in the strategies for achieving the IFSP outcomes. For example, a child might need (a) a communication board with picture symbols (adaptation) in order to express his wants and needs during mealtimes, as well as (b) the services of speech/language pathologist (support). In addition, to the greatest extent possible, the supports utilized to implement the outcome should be those found in everyday routines, activities, places and relationships. (pg. 39)

There is no specific requirement in Early Steps to specifically conduct a Routines-Based Interview. However, some type of assessment process that results in useful and functional assessment information based on children's participation in the contexts of family life, community life, and early care and education programs must be utilized to meet the policy requirements of Early Steps. The Routines-Based Interview, as well as other available tools and techniques, meets this requirement. Other tools and techniques are discussed in the Early Steps Orientation Training Module Six: Introduction to Linking Assessment to Intervention.

Family Assessment

  • Early Steps utilizes a family assessment tool, protocol, or techniques (service area choice) which emphasizes identifying family concerns, routines, activities, traditions, and desired outcomes and is documented on the IFSP. (pg. 31)


  • The assessment must provide an opportunity to observe the child in typical routines in order to combine developmental information with functional application information. Typical routines must be defined by the family, not contrived by the evaluators as typical routines for the child. (pg. 37)

IFSP Development

  • The IFSP reflects the family's prioritized concerns.
  • The child and family's routines and activities are identified and prioritized by using an ecological assessment.
  • Functional outcomes are written based on child/family routines, activities and family priorities and not solely on evaluation results.
  • Early intervention supports and services are provided in natural environments (i.e., home, early care and education settings) and embed strategies specific to the child's skill development into natural routines and activities in which the child and family participate. (pg. 41)


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