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What is Child Find?

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Each month for the next five months, Families as Allies is exploring a topic related to the state of Mississippi’s procedural safeguards for children receiving special education services. This month we are sharing more information about Child Find.

Child Find means that school districts are legally required to actively look for children who might need special education services and talk to their families about having their children assessed for special education. Families can also let their child’s school district know that they think their child might need special education services. When they do, the district is legally required to respond.

Below are eleven highlights about Child Find quoted directly from Appendix CF.A of the Mississippi Department of Education’s Child Find Evaluation and Eligibility Procedures. (“Local education agency” means a child’s school or school district.)

If you would like to learn more about Child Find and what it might mean for your child please join us for our webinar, Procedural Safeguards: What is Child Find? this Friday, February 5 at 10 AM.

1. Each public agency is responsible for identifying, locating, and evaluating all children with disabilities from birth through twenty-one (21) years of age.

2. Child Find is an ongoing, year-round process not limited to the school year.

3. Child Find is the responsibility of the child’s local education agency (LEA) of residence unless otherwise indicated. (See FAPE.B, Volume II)

4. LEAs must collaborate with any applicable agencies or service personnel for Child Find.

5. Each school district must select an individual to serve as the Agency/District Child Find Coordinator. Also, each agency or LEA with multiple locations (e.g., schools) should select an individual to serve as the Building/School Child Find Contact.

6. Each public agency has a proactive responsibility for conducting an annual publicity campaign to identify and locate children. The publicity campaign should not be limited to a newspaper article but should include various outreach methods. Documentation of the publicity campaign must be maintained on file by the public agency.

7. Each public agency must accept both verbal and written requests for a comprehensive evaluation and have procedures for documenting any verbal requests.

8. Each public agency must ensure that requests for a comprehensive evaluation and the assembly and decisions of a Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) to such requests are not limited by a total number of requests or the time of year requests are received. Each public agency must respond to any requests within fourteen (14) calendar days, including requests made when school is not in session.

9. Any infant or toddler from birth to forty-five (45) calendar days prior to the child’s third birthday (i.e., 34.5 months) who has been identified through Child Find activities or for whom a request for an evaluation has been received, the local school district must notify the MSDH Early Intervention Program (EIP) Referral Unit within seven (7) calendar days after the identification or receipt of the request.

10. University-Based Programs are not responsible for Child Find and must refer any child suspected of having a disability to the appropriate Child Find agency. For children ages birth through forty-five (45) days before their third birthday (i.e., thirty-four and a half (34.5) months), the appropriate agency is the MSDH first Steps EIP. For children older than thirty-four and a half (34.5) months, the appropriate agency is the school district of residence.

11. No policies, procedures, or practices, including Response to Intervention, may result in delaying or denying a child access to the Child Find process. Children cannot be required to participate in a minimum amount of time in Tiered Intervention supports before the MET can consider a request.

[Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash]

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