Child Find refers to the school district’s responsibility to actively seek out (or find) children who may be children with disabilities in need of special education. School districts are responsible to find and evaluate all children suspected to need special education ages 2.5 to 21 who reside in the school district, including children who are being home-schooled and those who are placed by parents in for-profit private schools. If a child has been placed by their parent in a non-profit private school, the school district where the non-profit private school is located is responsible for Child Find activities, including evaluating a child who may need special education. Every school district must have policies and procedures that explain how they will outreach to and work with families, local non-profit private schools and communities to make sure children who are potentially children with disabilities are referred to the IEP Team.
Sometimes when a child has been found eligible for special education services, but for a variety of reasons, is not currently receiving services, a school district will say they are placing the child “in child find”. Child find is process, not a place. A more accurate way of describing this situation is a “child who is eligible for, but is not currently receiving, special education”. The school district is still responsible to use child find activities to inform parents of their child’s right to be evaluation, and if eligible, receive special education services.