Implementation, Evaluation, and Resources Available for Early Intervention

Identify Strategies to Implement the Plan

This step involves working closely as a team to increase learning opportunities, to use the child’s surroundings to facilitate learning, to select the most effective strategies to bring about the desired outcomes, and identify reinforcers that best support the child’s learning.

Implementation may involve a toddler participating in a library story hour one afternoon a week; a physical therapist showing family members how to use adaptive equipment; or a service coordinator completing the paperwork to pay for a child’s transportation from his or her home to needed services.

Intervention strategies should help promote generalization of outcomes, i.e., the child performs new skills in a variety of environments after intervention has ended. For example, both service providers and family members can encourage a child to request desired objects (e.g., toys) with gestures in numerous environments (e.g., home, playgroup, child care).

Interventions should target several outcomes during one activity. When a child participates in an activity, he or she uses a variety of skills from a number of developmental areas. For example, during mealtimes, a toddler may use communication skills to request more juice, fine motor skills to grasp a spoon, and social skills to interact with a sibling.

Intervention strategies should help a child become more independent in his or her world. The selected strategies might involve offering physical assistance during mealtimes, prompting the correct response during a self-care routine, or providing simple pull-on clothing to enable a child to dress without assistance.
Interventions provided within natural environments should look like a “typical activity.” For instance, a child learning to develop her fine motor skills should be encouraged to color, draw pictures, play with puzzles, build with blocks, pick up her toys, use eating utensils, play finger games, etc. Ideally, interventions should:

  • Be embedded in everyday natural environments.
  • Emphasize the acquisition of functional competencies.
  • Make it possible to increase a child’s participation within the environments.
  • Include both social and non-social activities.

Evaluate Early Intervention to Ensure Quality

Both ongoing and periodic evaluations are essential to any early intervention program. An evaluation may focus on a child’s progress toward obtaining desired outcomes and upon the quality of the intervention program itself.

Ongoing monitoring of the child’s progress requires keeping records in a systematic manner in order to answer such critical questions as:

  • To what extent and at what rate is the child making progress toward attaining outcomes?
  • Are the selected intervention strategies and activities promoting gains in development?
  • Do changes need to be made in the intervention plan?

Periodically reviewing the IFSP provides a means of sharing results about the child’s progress and integrating these results into the plan. Part C of IDEA requires that the IFSP be evaluated and revised annually and that periodic reviews be conducted at least every six months (or sooner if requested by the family). This ongoing process provides a continual support to the family and child as they realize their own strengths and resources to help their child learn.


Brown, W., Thurman, S.K., & Pearl, L.F. (1993). Family centered early intervention with infants and toddlers: innovative cross-disciplinary approaches. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Vision for Early Childhood. (1993). DEC recommended practices: Indicators of quality in programs for infants and young children with special needs and their families. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.

Lerner, J.W., Lowenthal, B., and Egar, R. (1998). Preschool children with special needs. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Zhang, C. & Bennett, T. (2000). The IFSP/IEP process: Do recommended practices address culturally and linguistically diverse families? (CLAS Technical Report #10). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Early Childhood Research Institute on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services.

This information has been reprinted from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education

The Council for Exceptional Children
1110 N. Glebe Rd.
Arlington, VA 22201-5704
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