Students raising their hands in a classroom

Step 1: Child Find

How does the Child Find process work?

Local school districts are responsible for identifying children with disabilities who live in their town.  A school team talks with parents about how they see their child learn, talk, move and play, etc.  After an initial “screening,” the school district staff talks with the parents to see if they agree that their child should have a full evaluation.  If needed, a full evaluation is done at home, school or another community setting.

When should the local school district be contacted?

The child’s school district should be called if there is concern that a child’s development is off track, if the child’s doctor says the child is behind in development, if the child was born prematurely, if the child is not doing well in school and it is not obvious why, or if others express concern about the child.

Is the process the same for infants and toddlers as it is for school-aged children?

The process is basically the same.  A school-aged child (3-21 years-old) will probably have the evaluation at school, but could be evaluated in another community setting.  Children who are already in public school will be referred to a school based team. This team will develop and implement strategies to help the child be successful in the school setting before a formal request for evaluation is done.  Infants and toddlers (0-36 months) most likely are evaluated at home or in another community setting.  In Connecticut, Birth-to-Three is responsible for processing referrals for evaluations for children under the age of three.

How long does it take for the evaluation to occur after someone contacts Child Find?

For children over three and younger than 21, the school district has 45 school days to complete the evaluation process and determine whether or not a child is eligible for special education services.  This 45-day timeline starts when the written referral is received by school personnel.

How will this help the child?

The screening and evaluation done by the school helps parents and teachers better understand the child and how the child learns.  The team, with input from the child’s parents, share ideas for home and school and if necessary, can help find additional services or resources for the child.

Do you have to get parents’ permission before you call the school about a child?

Not necessarily, but the person who referred the child should inform the parents.   Sometimes teams do screenings at pre-schools and out in the community.  They can do screenings without parents’ permission.  However, the Planning and Placement Team (PPT) cannot conduct an evaluation without the parents’ consent.  It’s up to the parents to accept or refuse any services that are offered.  Additionally, information gained through the Child Find process will not be shared with other governmental or private agencies without the parents’ permission.

What is the cost of Child Find services?

The Child Find screening and/or evaluation for children birth to 21 is free.  The local school district pays the cost whether they conduct the evaluation themselves or whether they pay another agency to conduct the evaluation.

What if the child or parents do not speak English or are not U.S. citizens?

The school district will do the screening or evaluation and provide an interpreter in the family’s native language at no cost.  It is the district’s responsibility to include all children in the Child Find process even if their parents are not U.S. citizens.

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