IFSP Development, Practical Strategies, Service Coordination

The 45-Day Timeline: Four Need-To-Knows

It’s one of our most important timelines in early intervention – the 45-day timeline. It’s also a timeline that service coordinators and local system shutterstock_73397383managers/administrators must keep “on their radars” with families entering early intervention systems. Here are a few important things to know about this timeline:

The 45-day timeline is a family right and safeguard.

The 45-day timeline is described in the federal law as a right of families. VA’s Notice of Child and Family Rights and Safeguards document describes this as parents having rights and safeguards relating to the “opportunity for a multidisciplinary evaluation for eligibility determination and, if eligible, assessment and the development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) within forty-five (45) calendar days from referral.” This right is in place to ensure that families enter the system in a timely manner, and I think all of us can appreciate the importance of time when working with infants and toddlers.

Day 1 of the 45-day timeline starts with the date the child was referred to the early intervention system.

To be sure that you are tracking this timeline accurately, it’s vital to count out the 45 days starting with day 1 as the date of referral. A simple tip to ensure that you track this timeline correctly includes using a tool like the 45-day excel calculator you’ll find on the Tools of the Trade page on our VEIPD Center site.

The initial IFSP meeting must be held before the 45-day timeline ends.

Whether or not the 45-day timeline is met is usually documented by the date of the family’s signature on the initial IFSP, which also usually occurs at the initial IFSP meeting. It’s less common to have multiple meetings to develop the initial IFSP but it’s possible so be sure to document the entire process. Document your service coordination efforts to contact the family, schedule the intake and assessment, and communicate with service providers who are a part of these early processes. If there are any questions about why the timeline was not met, your documentation will be critical.

Compliance with the 45-day timeline is set by the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at 100%!

Because OSEP expects all families entering early intervention to do so within 45 days, service coordinators must be very mindful of how they document this process. There are some circumstances that are “allowable” as reasons for missing this timeline, such as when a family chooses to postpone the assessment or IFSP meeting or when a child is ill. Even this can be tricky, though, because a child who is sick on day 10 but well by day 13 does not necessarily mean that the EI program has a pass on the timeline. In this case, there would still be plenty of time to get the necessary activities completed before day 45.

There are also some activities that are never “allowable” reasons for missing the timeline, such as not having enough assessment slots or multidisciplinary team members available. Issues like these are program issues and, while they must be documented, represent system issues that must be managed in spite of the 45-day expectation. Missing the timeline because of not having enough assessment slots would put a program out of compliance, which would then put the state out of compliance as well – missing the timeline can have far-reaching effects. When issues like this arise, it’s important for service coordinators to talk with their local system managers/administrators to problem-solve together.

Since the 45-day timeline is so important, let’s share some ideas for managing it:

Service coordinators – What do you do to help you keep track of the 45-day timeline?

Local system managers/administrators – What tips can you share for helping your staff manage this timeline? How do you track it across your EI system?

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Virginia EI Service Coordinators, Service Providers and Local System Managers can check out the I&TC of VA Practice Manual for more guidance about the 45-day timeline.

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