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  • Writer's pictureAimee

Key Facts Regarding the “Child Find” Responsibility

The phrase “child find” comes up in education – which can bring to mind games of hide and seek with a kindergartener – but what does “child find” really mean?

Public school districts in Pennsylvania, including public charter schools, have a responsibility to identify, locate and evaluate students who are in need of special education services. This legal responsibility is known as “child find.” You can easily locate the child find procedures of each school since they have to be publicly posted, usually on the school’s website.

With January in our rear-view (thankfully!) and the school year halfway over, families now have two full quarters of school progress information to review on their children. They may see that there’s still that one area of significant challenge. Maybe progress is at a standstill in writing, skills seem to be dropping in math, or teacher communications about behavior have been more common. No single factor will mean that a child qualifies for special education services. A comprehensive evaluation process followed by a team meeting, including parents, is necessary before a decision about qualification for special education is made.

Where a parent or school has reason to believe a child needs special education services, then an evaluation should be initiated immediately.

The child find obligation is not a “one and done” – it’s ongoing. Once a child has been identified for services, the school must respond to new or changing disability-related needs by reevaluating them.

All this being said, what’s the standard process for starting a special education evaluation? Parents can request an evaluation by contacting their child’s principal or the school’s pupil services director in writing. If the school agrees to evaluate the child, the parent will receive a signature form listing the specific tests and data points that will be reviewed. If the school does not agree to evaluate, the parent will receive a written notice containing the reasons that the evaluation was declined.

A skilled special education attorney can facilitate the child find and evaluation process to ensure compliance with federal and state law. An attorney or advocate is helpful when parents are not sure where to begin or haven’t had the response they expected from their child’s school. For school districts, it’s always beneficial to have a special education attorney review your child find procedures to spot red flags.

For more information on child find and evaluations, contact Zundel Law at 412-212-8356 or Happy child finding!

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