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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 3, Lesson 3

Families and the Assessment Process

Traditionally the emphasis in involving families in the assessment process was on asking the family questions about family history and the child's developmental history in relation to the assessment process. Families in reality were viewed as obligatory members of the team rather than a true collaborator in the process. Clearly families have unique knowledge, concerns, and priorities for their children. Assessment activities must evolve out of the family and caregivers concerns, priorities and resources.

Family information gathering is an important part of the process of providing early intervention services to children from birth to age three and their families. Rather than discrete activity, information gathering should be viewed as an on-going process (Banks, Santos, & Roof (2003). The early intervention provider should be continually modifying his/her understanding of a family's resources, priorities and concerns both in relation to their child as well as to broader family issues. At the beginning of service delivery a family may have a need for information about the child's disability. However once the parent has obtained that information a new concern or need may evolve.

Family support and children's services are linked according to the requirements of the IFSP. Part C stipulates that an important part of the assessment process of infants and toddlers is to determine the family's resources, concerns and priorities related to enhancing the development of their child.

mom holding child at sink washing handsIf the goal is to provide services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families in natural environments, then it is critical to involve parents in the assessment process within natural environments. Professionals need to know and understand the dynamics of the family's everyday routines, activities and places in order to support the planning of activities which will enhance the child's development within those contexts. Asking and observing family members about those routines and activities is a critical component in the assessment process.


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