Child Find is a required part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

IDEA requires states to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services.

In Iowa, area education agencies (AEAs) were created by the legislature to do this in an effective, efficient, and economical way.

The term “Child Find” refers to the collection of processes that schools and AEAs use to locate, identify, and evaluate children who might need special education.

Child Find has two purposes:

  •  To locate, identify and evaluate individuals with disabilities
  •  To determine the educational needs of individuals with disabilities

An Overview of the Child Find Process

For students who are in school, the Child Find process begins with a school district providing high-quality general education instruction to all students.  Schools also must provide targeted or intensive general education interventions to students who require more support.

For children who are not yet in school, this early learning can take place in homes or in early childhood settings.

If a child is still having difficulty and not making the expected progress, a teacher, a parent, or an AEA staff member might begin to suspect that the child may have an educational disability.   A team will gather information about the student in order to decide whether a disability is suspected.

After considering the information, if a disability is suspected, the AEA and the school district will seek permission from the child’s parent/guardian to evaluate the student.  A Full and Individual Initial Evaluation will then be conducted to determine if the child is eligible for special education services and to determine what interventions are needed for the child to make progress.  Data will be collected during the evaluation to determine the child’s progress, discrepancy, and needs.

If a child is eligible for special education services, that means the child has a disability and needs services that require special education resources.  A team will meet to develop an Individualized Education Program or the child.

If you have questions regarding the Child Find process, you can contact the AEA  Regional Administrator or AEA staff who serve your school district or your area.

Misunderstandings, Misinformation, and Miscommunications about Child Find