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What is Child Find?

Under the IDEA and related California law and regulations, school districts, have a duty to seek out, identify, and evaluate all children with disabilities residing within California who may need special education and related services, regardless of the severity of the disability. This process of seeking out, identifying, and evaluating children is called “child find.”

Do child find requirements apply to children

enrolled in charter schools?

In California, charter schools are public schools that are subject to the child find requirements.

Who is covered by child find?


The child find duty extends to all children with a suspected disability, through age 21, who attend public school or private school, who are homeschooled or homeless, who reside in a nursing home because of serious medical needs, those who are highly mobile or migrant, and those who are wards of the State.


The child find mandate pertains to children who are failing to make academic progress as well as those who receive passing grades and are advancing from grade to grade.

Do child find requirements pertain to children suffering

from long-COVID?

Child find requirements apply to children suffering from long COVID or post-COVID conditions. 

According to the CDC, post-COVID conditions include a wide range of new, returning, and ongoing health problems people experience for more than four weeks after first being infected with COVID-19. These symptoms can include fatigue, difficulty thinking or concentrating, mood changes, fever, sleep problems, and more.

Children suffering from long COVID or post-COVID conditions may meet the eligibility requirements for special education and related services under the eligibility category of other health impairment if this condition adversely affect your child's educational performance, and your child demonstrates a need for special education and related services.

What triggers the child find duty?

The child find duty is not dependent on a request by the parent for special education testing or a referral for an IEP or a request for special education services. Instead, a school district’s child find duty toward a specific child is triggered when there is knowledge of, or reason to suspect a disability and reason to suspect that special education and related services may be needed to address that disability. As often happens, the requirement to assess a student may be triggered by the informed suspicions of outside experts such as medical doctors or therapists. 


The threshold for suspecting that a child has a disability is relatively low. A school district’s appropriate inquiry is whether the child should be referred for an evaluation, not whether the child actually qualifies for services.  

How quickly must the school district assess a child?


Once a school district has notice that a student has displayed symptoms of an eligible disability, it must assess the child. It is crucial that the identification of a child occur in a timely manner--that is--without delay. Once a school district receives written consent from the parent, the school district has 60 days to assess the child, exclusive of vacations, and convene an IEP team meeting.

Some school districts employ a school-wide approach to identify, monitor and provide interventions to struggling learners, which is called "response to intervention" or "RTI."RTI should not be used by a school district as an excuse to delay or deny a timely initial special education evaluation of a child suspected of having a disability. 

What areas must be assessed?

Assessments must be conducted according to legal requirements that prescribe both the content of the assessment and the qualifications of the assessor. A school district must assess the student in all areas of suspected disability. Decisions regarding areas to be assessed are driven by the suspected needs of the child. If a child’s behaviors or physical status is of concern, evaluations addressing these areas must be conducted. 

Child find is not a guarantee of special education eligibility.


Child find does not guarantee special education eligibility under the IDEA. As noted above, child find is merely a locating and screening process used to find children who may need special education and related services. If the school district fails to meet its child find duty, this failure may be included as an issue in a due process hearing request.

If your child needs an IEP, call us.

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