You may not have heard of the Child Find mandate. It’s a legal requirement for schools to find children who have disabilities and need services. Identifying these kids is an important first step toward getting them the help they need to succeed in school.
Child Find is part of a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law protects the rights of students with disabilities.
Children with disabilities from birth through age 21 are covered. This includes children who are being homeschooled or who are in private school.
Child Find requires school districts to have a process for identifying and evaluating children who may need special education and related services, such as counseling or speech therapy. Even infants and toddlers can be evaluated. They could then receive help for learning disabilities and developmental delays through the government’s early intervention programs. These programs help parents find out if their young children are on track. Then, if needed, the programs can connect families with appropriate services early in the child’s life.
Parents whose children don’t attend public schools may not know what kind of help is available. Schools use various methods to reach those families. Outreach efforts can include local media campaigns, notices to parents and notices posted in public places.
If the school knows or has reason to suspect your child has a disability, then by law (IDEA) it must agree to do an evaluation. For example, a child’s teacher or parents may be concerned about a child’s academic work and request an evaluation. By law, the school must seriously consider their request.
The school doesn’t have to agree to every request for evaluation, though. If there’s no reason to think your child has a disability that requires services, the school doesn’t have to evaluate.
If you are concerned that a child you know may have a disability and need specialized instruction, please contact the Burnet CISD Special Programs office at 512-715-5117.