by Natalie Frei, PT, DPT, Children’s Therapy
Child Find is the process of locating and evaluating children before age 3 for disabilities and/or developmental delays. IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, requires all school districts to locate, evaluate and provide services for students ages 0 to 21 who have a qualifying disability. Each school district has a process for identifying and evaluating children from the ages of birth to 21 but generally follows the same path of:
(1) Early Intervention program (IFSP) -> (2) Developmental Preschool (IEP) -> (3) Kindergarten/Elementary school (IEP)
The IFSP and IEP are written plans that need to be in place for the child to access the services.
For example, in the Renton School District, a child who has been identified as needing extra help in the areas of motor or communication as an infant or baby would follow this path:
1. Early Intervention Services through Boyer, Children’s Therapy, Kindering, NW Center or Childhaven and the child receives an IFSP (Individualized Family Services Plan) detailing their motor and communication needs.
2. At or before the age of 3, a Family Resource Coordinator (FRC) at one of those EI clinics will coordinate a transition meeting between the family and the developmental preschool in Renton School District. Once the child has turned 3, the school district takes over responsibility for providing services and the child leaves the Early Intervention program. This can also be done via an outpatient therapist.
3. Once the child has been identified, evaluated and enrolled in developmental preschool with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), they are essentially set up in the school system with needed supports and services for elementary school and beyond.
It’s important to know that once a child is beyond the age of 3, the school district will provide evaluation and implementation of services through an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) which protects their right to support and special services. It’s important to get your child evaluated in all areas of need.
If your child is not yet in Kindergarten and in the Renton School District, call this number: 425.204.2205 for evaluation. (You may Google “Child Find + ____ school district.”)
If your child is in Kindergarten or beyond, you must request testing/evaluation for your concerns about delays in writing to your child’s school. For example, “I am requesting that my child be evaluated for a speech delay.”
A child may be identified later in school by a teacher or parent as potentially needing services and this would prompt a referral to the school psychologist who would continue with evaluation.