Child Find: Law, Process & Screening

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  • 0:04 Child Find Definition
  • 1:04 Child Find Process
  • 1:40 Informing
  • 2:25 Identifying and Reporting
  • 3:24 Screening, Evaluation,…
  • 4:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Knowledge of the Child Find mandate is important because it involves specific obligations that educators may have to address. This lesson details the relevant aspects of this mandate through a practical example.

Child Find Definition

Imagine that your school has a few students who appear to have a disability. Tommie is blind in one eye, Laura is in a wheelchair, and Carl has lost his left arm. A disability can compromise cognitive development, hearing, speech, vision, or motor, social and emotional skills, among other areas.

All of these physical limitations are obvious, and your school staff and faculty act in a sensitive and sensible manner towards the children with the disabilities. While this is a great attitude, it is not enough because your school may have many students with disabilities that are not so easily observable. This is why a plan to identify disabilities and provide appropriate aid is necessary.

Child Find is a legal mandate that requires school districts to have a plan to identify and evaluate children between birth and age 21 with disabilities. It falls under the federal law we know as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Child Find Process

Now that you know what Child Find is, you may be wondering how it works. For the mandate to be effective, the process must include the following steps:

  1. Informing those who care for children about signs of disability
  2. Identifying and reporting possible signs of disability
  3. Screening a child to confirm the signs of a potential disability
  4. Evaluating a child if the screening recommends it
  5. Servicing a disability

Let's examine these steps a little further and look at some practical examples.


It is important to know that the way school districts inform educators and parents about Child Find can vary. Even though the mandate is part of a federal law, every school district across the country has its own policy because the law itself allows for this possibility. For example, school district Learning Inc. could have free training for parents and educators about the many possible disabilities and the signs to watch out for in children. By comparison, school district Teaching Inc. could send home brochures with information about disabilities and the signs that can alert parents or teachers about them. Additionally, each state has public awareness activities that inform teachers, doctors, parents, and other people involved with children about signs of disability.

Identifying and Reporting

Regardless of how schools choose to inform their staff about Child Find, staff members in charge of children from birth to age 21 must be alert at all times. If a care provider suspects a disability, they must report it to the school and parents.

For example, say Anne is a teacher in California. When she plays songs and videos in class, her student Bob tilts his head to the left and holds his right ear, as if he were making an effort to listen. Often, Bob cannot answer the follow-up questions because he says he does not hear the answers. Anne starts to pay careful attention to Bob and notices that even when she speaks to him, he makes an effort to listen but still says he can't hear everything.

Anne knows from the Child Find information sessions that hearing problems can involve a disability. Anne then talks to her principal and the school communicates with Bob's parents or legal guardians, recommending a screening in order to determine if he has a hearing disability.

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