The family plays several important roles in Virginia’s System for Determination of Child Progress, including team member, child information provider, rating participant and customer.
Team Member: Just as families are members of IFSP teams, they are critical to the assessment team. DEC Recommended Practices (2005) tell us “Early childhood assessment is a flexible, collaborative decision-making process in which teams of parents and professionals repeatedly revise their judgments and reach consensus…”
Information Provider: Child Indicator Summary Form (CISF) rating rely on information about a child’s functioning across situations and settings. Parent input is crucial: family members see the child in situations that professionals do not. The rest of the team will need to learn what family members know about the child- what the child does at home, at grandma’s house, in the grocery store, etc.
Participant is CISF Rating Discussions: As members of the IFSP team, families are natural participants in the CISF rating discussion. Their role in the rating is child expert, while other members of the team will know child development and the skills and behaviors expected at various age levels.
Customer: Professionals need to be able to explain why the rating is being done and what it means.
What is an outcome/indicator?
What makes an indicator functional?
How do I assess functional indicators?
Why isn’t assessing the child’s ability to perform discrete behaviors enough?
Discrete behaviors (e.g., those described by some items on assessment instruments) may or may not be important to the child’s functioning on the indicator.
Think about isolated behaviors ad what observing them tells you about the child. For example, suppose an assessment instrument asks you to observe whether or not a child can point:
What about domains?
What does functionality have to do with using the Child Indicator Summary Form?
Ratings on the seven-point scale for each outcome are a snapshot of:
Ratings are based on the child’s functioning:
Check your understanding….
Look at the list of skills below. Which are examples of isolated skills? Which are examples of functional skills?
a. Knows how to imitate a gesture when prompted by others
(Answers: a, b, c = isolated; d, e, f = functional)
The CISF uses a 7-point scale for rating a child’s functioning in each of the three indicator areas. To determine a rating, the team must be familiar with the child’s functioning in the indicator area across a variety of situations and settings. The team needs to think about the many skills and behaviors that allow the child to function in an age-expected way in each indicator area. The team needs to understand the developmental continuum that leads to age-expected functioning, asking
Some of the skills and behaviors that develop early serve as the foundation for later skills and behavior, or expressed another way, later skills build on earlier skills in predictable ways. Teachers and therapists can use the earlier sills to help children move to the next higher level of functioning developmentally. We refer to these earlier skills that serve at the base and are conceptually linked to the later skills as “foundational skills.” For example, children play along side one another before they interact in play. Development in the early childhood years proceeds through several levels of foundational skills with skills and behavior becoming more complex and more proficient as children get older. All skills that lead to higher levels of function are foundational skills, however, the set of skills and behavior that occur developmentally just prior to age-expected functioning can be described as the immediate foundational skills in that they are the most recent set of foundational skills that children master and move beyond.
A child whose functioning is like that of a younger child is probably showing immediate foundational skills. Her functioning does not meet age expectations, but she demonstrates skills and behaviors that occur developmentally just prior to age expected functioning and are the basis on which to build age-expected functioning.
A child whose functioning might be described as like that of a MUCH younger child does not meet age expectation, nor does she demonstrate skills and behaviors that immediately precede age-expected functioning. She has foundational skills, but not yet an immediate foundational level.
Some foundational skills get replaced by newer skills whereas others continue in children’s (and adult’s) repertoires throughout life. The nature of interacting with other children changes fundamentally as children get older. On the other hand, skills like making eye contact, turn-taking, and eating with a fork get incorporated into more sophisticated routines but never disappear. To identify whether functioning that continues throughout life constitutes an immediate foundational skill, ask yourself at what age one would first expect to see this functioning and how close it that to the child’s current age. For instance, being able to make eye contact is not an immediate foundational skill for a three year old.
Example 1: Chrissa is 30 months (2 ˝ years) old. Although she does not play with other children, she watches them with great interest. A child who is 30 months of age or so should play with other children, even taking turns. A younger child (18-24 months or so) would play alone, but would be very aware of other children, such as the toys another child is using, and may snatch a toy away from another child. A much younger child (12 months or so) would stay very close to his or her primary caregiver, showing early awareness of other children. Chrissa is more than aware of other children; she visually follows their play with enthusiasm. She has immediate foundational skills on which to build the next level of relationships with peers, which would involve playing with other children and turn taking.
Child development does not progress in a neat and tidy sequence. Children spend various amounts of time in any one stage of development. Areas of development may overlap with one another. It is impossible to pin down the exact age at which every child will have achieved a specific milestone. Children manifest developmental expectations in different ways. All children follow general sequences, but each child will develop in unique ways, depending upon the child’s personality, context and experiences. In determining the extent to which a child’s functioning meets age expectations, the team must look at an overall pattern, rather than specific fragments, of development.
Example 2: Justin is 24 months (2 years) old. He uses a spoon, but often spills the food before it gets to his mouth. Without his mom’s help he wouldn’t get much to eat at mealtime. A child who is 2 should be able to meet his feeding needs without much help, using various kinds of tools, including his fingers. The younger child (toddler) experiments with tool use, but with limited success. The much younger child (infant) participates in feeding by opening his mouth, but does not attempt to feed himself.
A domain score on an assessment does not necessarily translate directly into an indicator rating. Indicator ratings require:
To Decide on a Rating…