IFSP vs. IEP vs. 504 Plans
For families of children with hearing loss, securing the services and accommodations needed for your child to succeed is of the utmost importance. You are likely familiar with the acronyms IFSP and IEP, and you may be aware of the idea of 504 Plans.
All of these terms are related to your child with hearing loss getting the help they need to succeed educationally and enjoy independence. CCHAT is proud to be a member of your team and constantly works toward improving the level of services provided to our students.
Defining IFSP, IEP and 504 Plans
The goal of an IFSP, IEP and 504 Plan is to get your child with hearing loss set up on the road to success. There are some details that differentiate each plan from the others.
Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
An individualized family service plan is designed for children from birth to 3 years old. The IFSP is a legal document that outlines the support needed for a child with a developmental disability, like hearing loss.
To qualify for an IFSP, a family will undergo a review process in which the child’s abilities are evaluated by a team of outside professionals. Additional conversations will take place with family members to determine the child’s present-level skills in a variety of areas.
Once an IFSP is in place, services, such as speech therapy, can begin. CCHAT professionals, including teachers of the deaf and speech therapists, will be a part of your team, and they will help determine appropriate services and implement these plans. Typically, an IFSP is more family centered than an IEP or 504 Plan, with objectives and outcomes for family members’ education and success, in addition to the child.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Many CCHAT students are on an individualized education plan or program, or IEP. This plan differs from an IFSP in that it supports children from 3 years old to 12th grade and deals more specifically with a child’s special education service provision and experience in school.
To get on an IEP, a child must have one of 13 specified disabilities (hearing-impairment included), and this disability must inhibit their classroom experience in some way. An IEP meeting is typically attended by a parent or caregiver, a school district representative and other members of your child’s team, which for CCHAT students can mean a teacher of the deaf and speech therapist.
The result of an IEP is a review and evaluation of a child’s present-level abilities. These results drive the team to create goals, discuss service provision, and develop accommodations and modifications to curriculum for the child’s success in the classroom. IEPs are reviewed each year with formal evaluations completed every three years to determine continued eligibility.
A 504 Plan is another tool for getting a child with hearing loss the support they need to thrive in an educational setting. Many times, certain supports listed in a student’s IEP will be transferred to a 504 Plan. However, this plan differs from an IFSP and IEP in some ways.
Unlike an IEP, a 504 Plan can continue through high school and be presented to a higher education institute to secure support at the collegiate level. The plan, which is devoid of goals and services, is designed to establish accommodations that a school can implement for a student with hearing loss. Some examples of these supports include the use of hearing-assistive technology, seating near the front of class to enhance hearing, or receiving a text version of a lesson plan to account for verbal instructions that may have been missed in class.
Similarly to IFSPs and IEPs, a 504 Plan team will typically include a parent or caregiver and additional school personnel like a teacher or administrator. Because CCHAT is a service provider, children in our program are not on 504 Plans.
CCHAT’s Role in Your Child’s Future Success
In addition to the development of listening and spoken language skills, CCHAT aims to provide children who are deaf and hard of hearing with the ability to self-advocate and live independent lives. Part of that is working as members of your family’s IFSP and IEP teams to ensure that your child with hearing loss is getting the services and accommodations they need to thrive.
CCHAT works hard to prepare you for meetings pertaining to IFSPs and IEPs. If you have a question regarding these procedures, be sure to reach out to a CCHAT staff member. Our goal is to make sure you and your child are supported in every step of your hearing loss journey. For more information about how CCHAT aims to serve families, visit our Parent Support & Resources page.