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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 4

Ensuring an Effective Meeting Requires Planning with Both Families and Professionals

father holding babyWe're going to spend some time looking carefully at the meeting planning process for an IFSP meeting. Important decisions are made here and all participants should be well prepared.


First, let's look at the logistics of the meeting. Considering the family's preferences when planning logistics is a critical component.

  • Where will the meeting be held?
  • What time of day is best for families to meet? And what day of the week?
  • How long will the meeting be expected to last?
  • Who should be there?
  • What is each person's role?
  • Who will facilitate the meeting? Has pre-planning been completed?

Purpose of the Meeting

Make sure the family and the professionals know what they are there to discuss.

  • What is the purpose/specific outcome of the meeting? Initial IFSP? IFSP review?
  • What will be the agenda?

Before the Meeting

Pre-planning with the family and the other team members for the day of the meeting is crucial.

  • Will special accommodations or supports be needed by the family at the meeting? If so, what might they be?
  • What can you do to help ensure families are prepared and informed?
  • How will you help the family understand how team decisions are made?

During the Meeting

Much has been done to prepare families and other participants for the meeting. Now that we have reached the actual meeting, there is still more to consider.

  • How can you create an environment in which everyone feels welcome and supported?
  • What facilitative elements will help the meeting go smoothly?

After the Meeting

Although the meeting may have ended, it is important to look at what comes next.

  • What happens after the meeting to make sure families and professionals learn from and value the experience. What happens with the paperwork?

woman writingThere certainly is a lot to think about, isn't there? Because there are many details to deal with when planning an IFSP meeting, having a checklist or worksheet to assist you can make the process go smoother and assure that you don't miss something or, more importantly, someone! You will be asked to do an activity at the end of this lesson using an IFSP meeting planning worksheet.

We've talked about preparing both families and other professionals to participate in an IFSP meeting. The table below might assist all team members as they prepare for meetings and think about their role as active participants at the IFSP meeting.

Questions for Professionals and Families about IFSP Meeting Participation

Professionals Families
Do I truly believe parents are the experts with respect to their children? Do I feel I am a partner with the professionals on my team?
Do I place the same value on the family's time as my own? Do I educate myself about the family and child prior to meetings? Do I accept my share of the responsibility for making team decisions for my child?
Do I avoid jargon and speak plainly? Do I articulate my issues, priorities, and concerns to professionals clearly and assertively?
Do I ensure that families understand written material and verbal discussions? Are materials in the family's native language or other mode of communication? Are interpreters used when necessary? Do I treat team members as individuals and work on establishing good working relationships?
Do I schedule appointments at times and places convenient to families? Do I follow through when I have agreed to participate in a plan of action?
Do I share information with other professionals to assure there is no duplication of services and key players have key information to maximize outcomes for the family and child? Are my expectations of myself, my team, and my child realistic?
Do I communicate effectively with families and other professionals? Do I truly listen? Do I encourage questions and dialogue? Do I keep team members informed? Do I communicate quickly with professionals when something significant happens?
Am I sensitive to cultural differences? If family members and other team members are from a culture other than my own, do I know how to communicate effectively with them? Am I sensitive to cultural differences? If other team members are from a culture other than my own, do I know how to communicate effectively with them?

Can you think of other aspects of team collaboration of which professionals and families need to be aware?


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