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What is Child Find?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA requires all school districts to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities who need special education and related services. Child Find includes children from birth to 21 years old. The main purpose of Child Find is to ensure that all children regardless of the level of their disability receive a free appropriate public education or FAPE and that they receive special education and related services that are “designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education.” Special education and related services can include special instruction and support in the classroom, at home, in hospitals, and other settings.

What is the Process?

What is the Process? Schools will schedule your child to be screened if they suspect that your child has a learning disability or needs special instruction or related services. Parental consent isn’t required for screenings. Screenings can include examining your child’s hearing, vision, speech, developmental skills, and their academic skills. If the school suspects that your child is eligible for special education or has an education disability, the school should schedule a meeting with you to discuss conducting additional evaluations. 

You are required to give parental consent before your child is evaluated. After you give consent, the evaluation must be completed within 60 days or within the timeline required by your state’s requirements. The school will then contact you for an eligibility determination meeting to discuss the evaluation results.

What Disabilities are Covered under Child Find?

Children must have a disability under the IDEA and a need for special education services and support. The IDEA includes the following thirteen categories of disability: autism, deaf and hard of hearing, deaf-blindness, developmental delay, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech-language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment.

How do I Request for my Child to be Evaluated?

You can request that your child be evaluated by your local public school or public-school district. Your child isn’t required to attend public school to request an evaluation. It’s important to request an evaluation in writing. Explain why you believe your child has a disability and why you believe an evaluation is necessary. You can include copies of medical records and any additional documentation that supports your request. 

What if my Child is Too Young?

No child is too young. Child Find includes children from the day they are born. Regardless of where you live, all states have an early intervention program designed for infants and toddlers who haven’t started school yet. Early intervention is designed to help infants and toddlers with developmental delays.

Will it Cost Money?

It does not cost you. All evaluations, screenings, assessments and all special education services are provided at no cost to you. Special education and services are provided at no cost to you.

What if my Child doesn’t attend a Public School?

What if my Child doesn’t attend a Public School? Child Find includes all children even if they aren’t attending a public school. It also includes migrant children, homeless children, and children who are wards of the state. The IDEA requires school districts to “locate, identity, and evaluate all children with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, elementary and secondary schools located” in the school district. 

Your child can continue to attend private school even if they are eligible for special education services. You can work with your school district to arrange special education services. School districts must conduct evaluations in the same manner they conduct them for public schools. They are required to conduct initial evaluations within 60 days of receiving parental consent or within the timeline required by the state.

Are Services the Same in Every State?

Services are not the same in every state. Even though the IDEA is a federal law, school districts and states have their own policies. It’s important to research what services your state provides. All public schools are required to have systems in place to evaluate children from kindergarten to 12th grade. 

What if my Child’s School Denies my Request?

If your school denies your evaluation request, the school must provide you with Prior Written Notice explaining why they do not believe an evaluation is necessary. Don’t accept no as an answer and give up. You still have several options. You can request mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party and it includes you and the school district. The mediator will do their best to come to a resolution. If you’re still not satisfied, you have the right to request a due process hearing. Finally, you can file a complaint with your state’s Department of Education and with the U.S. Department of Education.

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