Talk with family members, other parents, doctors, or teachers about your dream. Think about other people who will need to help your child reach each goal. Share your plan with those who can help and use them to plan the next step. Working with your child's teacher is important. Find out if there are booklets, videos, or other materials that would be helpful as you make your plan.
The IDEA, says that each eligible child must have a plan that lists program goals and the kinds of services and supports the child will need to reach those goals. Under IDEA there are two different plans: (1) the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for infants and toddlers (birth to 3-years-of-age) and (2) the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Under the law, states, with your agreement, can choose to use the IFSP or the IEP for children between ages 3 and 5.
A team of people work together to develop this written plan, and you, as a parent, are a very important member of this team. IDEA says you have the right to be part of the team that writes the plan. It is very important that you know about this plan and what rights and safeguards are there to help you. The school can give you information about this plan as well as the Parent Training and Information (PTI) center in your state. (See appendix B for state listings.)
If your child is between birth and 3 years old and needs early intervention services, there must be a written plan describing the goals for your child, your family, and the resources necessary to meet these goals. This is your family's unique plan for services. You will work with a team of people from health departments, public schools, social services, and other agencies to develop this plan. Be sure to ask for what your child and your family need.
As your child gets older, his or her needs will change. The plan will need to change, too. When your child reaches the age of 3 (or age 5 in some states), the program plan that is written is called the IEP. This plan talks about the special education needs of your child, and how these needs will be met. As a family member, you will be an important part of the team that works together to plan the educational program for your child. Be ready to work with your child's team. Any time you feel the plan is not helping your child, ask for a review of the plan. If you disagree with the educational program planned for your child, you have a right to a hearing. With a good plan as a map, you, your child, and your school team can work together to make your dream come true.