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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 2

Family-Centered Information Gathering

Lesson 3 in Module 3 looked at the assessment process and the importance of family information gathering. We will expand on that concept in this lesson.

Families try to strike a balance between hope for the maximum that their children can achieve and acceptance of realities and limitations. They are never completely certain whether or not their children are reaching full potential, and they often feel pressed to obtain services for their children "before it's too late." At the same time, early interventionists face requirements of accountability and procedures that families experience less directly. Although parents and professionals may have differing perspectives, trusting relationships can be developed. The challenge is to develop mutual frames of reference and common goals between families and professionals. This is done through building effective parent-professional teams in which family members truly participate and can have an impact on their children's progress.

mother and child opening presents What was once known as "family assessment" is now termed "family-centered information gathering." Family-centered information gathering reflects a new perspective and refers to the process of the professional and family talking together to identify the family's concerns, priorities, and resources (CPR) (IDEA, 1997). This is an ongoing process that begins with first contacts, continues through the evaluation and assessment process, and on to development and implementation of the Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) in natural environments. Professionals should strive to build a strong relationship with families based on mutual trust and respect and supported by cultural competence, while they attempt to understand the family's concerns, priorities, and resources. It is important to note that the family's participation in this information gathering is strictly voluntary and is not required under Part C of IDEA. Federal guidance indicates that it must be with the concurrence of the family.


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