Components of Child Find

Locate, Identify and Evaluate: Understanding the Components of Child Find

Under Child Find, states and school districts must locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities, ages birth through 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services.

Use the links below to learn more about the three main components of Child Find: location, identification and evaluation.

Locate: Finding Students

Local school districts are responsible for conducting Child Find activities to locate children who live in their district and who may have a disability and may be eligible to receive special education or related services. Districts are not relieved of this responsibility even if a parent does not know about Child Find or does not know how to request an evaluation. For this reason, the Child Find Project at CPAC conducts ongoing public awareness activities throughout the state of Connecticut, and provides culturally sensitive technical assistance to families and providers regarding Child Find.

All children with disabilities residing in the state, including:

  • Students Who Are Homeless
    The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensures access to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) for children experiencing homelessness. The Act also ensures that children and youth who have disabilities will have their complex and unique needs identified and met.

    Each school district has a local homeless education liaison that is the point of contact for families and unaccompanied youths experiencing homelessness. The liaison is responsible for identifying children and youths who may be covered by the McKinney-Vento Act and ensuring that these children receive services related to educational, health or basic needs.

    For more information, read BROKEN LINK: "Frequently Asked Questions: Child Find and Children who are Homeless: Questions and Answers on Special Education and Homelessness" developed by The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

    The following organizations offer information on the education of children who are homeless:
    National Center for Homeless Education
    (800) 308-2145
    homeless@serve.org

    BROKEN LINK: Connecticut State Department of Education
    State of Connecticut Contact - Louis Tallarita, CT State Coordinator
    Connecticut State Department of Education
    Bureau of Health and Nutrition Services and Child/Family/School Partnerships
    25 Industrial Park Road
    Middletown, CT 06457
    Email: Louis.Tallarita@ct.gov
    Telephone: (860) 807-2058

    BROKEN LINK: Homelessness Online Lessons from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, a service of the Office Head Start
  • Students Who Are Wards of the State
    The term "Ward of the State" means a child who, as determined by the state where the child lives, is a foster child, is a ward of the State, or is in the custody of a public child welfare agency. "Ward of the State" does not include a foster child who has a foster parent who meets the definition of parent.

    The term parent is defined as any of the following:
    • a natural, adoptive, or foster parent of a child (unless a foster parent is prohibited by State law from serving as a parent)
    • a guardian (but not the State if the child is a ward of the state)
    • an individual acting in the place of a natural or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child's welfare
    • an individual assigned to be a surrogate parent
    For information on adopting a child, contact CARA (Child Adoption Resource Association, Inc) at: (860) 444-0553 or email at: director@adoptacarakid.org.

    State of Connecticut Contact - Norma Sproul
    Bureau of Special Education
    165 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106
    Email: norma.sproul@ct.gov
    Telephone: (860) 713-6936
  • Students in Private School
    If a child is parentally placed in a private school, the local education agency (LEA) where the private school is located is responsible for conducting child find. The child find activities and the evaluation process for parentally-placed private school children must be similar to activities undertaken for child find for children in public schools. Additionally, the child find process must be completed by the LEA in a time period comparable to that for other students attending public schools. This means that LEAs may not delay conducting child find for parentally-placed private school children until after child find for public school children.
  • Students Who Are Highly Mobile or Migrant
    The McKinney-Vento Act also applies to migrant children who are not in the custody of a parent or guardian. Many migrant children may also fit into the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness due to their family's transitory lifestyle. Coverage by the McKinney-Vento Act helps immediate enrollment by eliminating barriers related to records required at the time of enrollment.

    In addition, the Migrant Education Program (MEP) provides formula grants to State educational agencies (SEAs) to establish or improve education programs for migrant children.

    Detailed information about the education of migrant children can be found in No Child Left Behind. You can read an article at Title I, Part C Education of Migratory Children. Information about how the McKinney-Vento Act applies to migrant children can be found at the National Center for Homeless Education website Migrant Children and Youths Experiencing Homelessness.

    State of Connecticut Contact - Reinaldo Matos
    Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction
    165 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106
    Email: reinaldo.matos@ct.gov
    Telephone: (860) 713-6747

Identify: Looking at the Signs

Children whose development may seem off-track in areas such as vision and hearing, motor control and coordination, social skills or behavior, speech or language skills, or children who are having difficulty in school may be in need of special education or related services.

When a parent or professional observes signs that a child may not be developing or learning as expected they can contact the school to discuss these concerns or contact the Child Find Project to request information on what steps to take.

  • What is typical development and what should be a concern?
    Information about child development can be found on the Birth-to-Three website. For more information on indicators of learning disabilities, please visit the Bright Futures website and read Learning Disabilities: Common Signs or check out the National Center for Learning Disabilities BROKEN LINK: Learning Disabilities Checklist. For information about children who are learning English as a second language, read "English as a Second Language: What's 'Normal', What's Not" developed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

    Many parents find it easier to discuss their concerns about their child's development or learning with the school if they have a detailed list of examples of their specific concerns that they have seen in their child. It is also helpful to fill out a Positive Student Profile in order to describe all aspects of your child.
  • Students Who Are English Language Learners
    For information on what to expect when students are learning English as a second language visit LD Online's website and read "What's 'Normal,' What's Not: Acquiring English as a Second Language" by Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin and Alejandro Brice.

Red Flags to Consider for Possible Referral
There may often be red flags that indicate that a child may need a referral for special education services. View the list of possible red flags.

Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Under the current categories of disabilities included under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA '04), ADHD is not considered a separate "disability condition." However, if the disorder adversely affects the student's educational performance, eligibility for special education under existing categories may be appropriate. Some students with ADD/ADHD may exhibit symptoms which qualify them in one of the following disability categories for special education:

Other Health Impairment
A child with ADD or ADHD may be considered to have a disability under Other Health Impairment if:

  • ADHD is a chronic or acute health condition (more than three weeks duration)
  • A child has heightened alertness or vitality because of the ADHD
  • ADHD adversely affects educational performance

Specific Learning Disability
A child may be considered to have a specific learning disability when a disorder exists in one or more of the psychological processes needed to understand and use language, written or spoken that causes difficulty in:

  • Listening
  • Thinking
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Mathematical Calculations

Emotional Disability
A diagnosis of Emotional Disability for a child with ADD/ADHD may be considered when the child has:

  • An inability to learn
  • An inability to build or maintain relationships
  • Inappropriate behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances
  • Pervasive unhappiness or depression
  • Physical symptoms associated with personal or school problems

Repeated Suspensions
A student who has been disciplined or suspended repeatedly for behavior problems may have an underlying disability causing these behaviors. A complete educational and behavioral evaluation may help identify the necessary supports needed for success.

Lead Poisoning
Children who are exposed to lead may experience lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can have serious effects on the nervous system and can result in mental, emotional and or physical impairment in children. To learn more about the educational implications of lead poisoning as well as signs and symptoms, and ways to prevent lead poisoning, visit BROKEN LINK: Connecticut Department of Public Health's or call (860) 509-7299. Follow the link to view the Lead Poisoning Fact Sheet, published by the Minnesota Low Incidence funds, Region 10 Physical Health Disabilities Network and School Nurse Organization of Minnesota (SNOM).

Evaluate: Determining Eligibility

A comprehensive evaluation allows schools to identify a student's needs and determine whether a child is eligible to receive special education services. If an evaluation is needed, a team which includes the parents will meet to share information about the child's development and school performance. This evaluation is conducted at no cost to families. Parents are required to provide informed consent (written consent) before the child is evaluated for the first time to determine eligibility for special education.