Child Find

Child find referrals are referrals of children who are not enrolled in public school or a federally funded program (i.e., ECI, Head Start), and are suspected of having a disability. This includes students who may be homeless or wards of the State; and those attending private schools. 

The majority of child find referrals are for children who are 2-4 years of age, but may be made for children of any age from birth to age 21. For students suspected of having a disability who are referred prior to their third birthday, public law requires that the child be evaluated and an Admissions, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting held be prior to the child's third birthday to determine eligibility and, if warranted, develop an appropriate and indivdualized education program (IEP). A child who meets the eligibility requirements for special education is entitled to begin special education services by their third birthday.

  • Referrals may come from phone calls, letters, or personal contacts with any individual who is aware of a child who may need special education services.
    • An Intake form is completed by office personnel.
    • The Intake form is emailed to assigned personnel (child find facilitator) for processing.
    • Within 48 hours of the receipt of the intake form, the parent/ECI is contacted to schedule an intake meeting to be held at the home campus or PPCD campus as determined by district personnel.
  • Each referral is logged and tracked by child find office personnel.
  • If a child is under 3 years of age, the office staff will refer the family to Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) in the county where the child resides. and will obtain verbal permission to share the child's contact information with ECI. The district will supply the name of the child and contact information to the appropriate ECI within 48 hours after verbal consent is received.
  • ECI will notify the district of any child who is under age three, receiving ECI services, and has a suspected hearing or vision loss. The child find facilitator will notify the special education supervisor within 48 hours of the initial contact from ECI in order to initiate appropriate services for students with auditory and/or visual impairments.
  • The child find facilitator notifies the appropriate campus staff of the date/time of the scheduled intake meeting.
    • At this meeting, a screening is conducted. Based on the results of the screening, necessary referral forms are explained and completed.
    • Part of the referral includes a hearing and/or vision screening which may be completed by the school nurse at the intake meeting if that information is not available from the parent/guardian/agency that has referred the child.
    • A campus tour may be provided to parent/agency at the intake meeting if requested.
  • Appropriate staff will assess child
    • Speech and Language Pathologist if speech is the only area of suspected disability.
    • PPCD team may conduct an arena assessment for those students who are suspected of having multiple areas of concern.
    • Related service providers may be included in the initial evaluation if the student has been receiving a related service from an outside source.
  • An ARD/IEP meeting will be scheduled within the appropriate timelines to determine the child's eligibility and educational needs. An IEP may be developed at this time.

All special education timelines are in effect for these child find referrals and must be met.Campus evaluation staff is responsible for assuring that timelines are met.


Because young children are entitled to begin receiving special education services by their third birthday if they are found 
eligible for Special Education services, the full and individual evaluation and the ARD/IEP must be completed sufficiently 
in advance so the IEP may be implemented by his/her third birthday.

If a child is already three years old when the referral is made, the evaluation and ARD meeting should be completed within normal timelines for students 3-21. This is 60 calendar days from the date of the signed consent to the completion of the full and individual evaluation (FIE) and the FIE report, and 30 calendar days from the FIE to the ARD/IEP meeting; making a total of 90 days.

SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN (including Private/Home-schooled children) 

If a child is school age (5 years of age or older), the child find intake information will be sent to the child find facilitator for the initial intake with the parent. The information will then be shared with the home campus for completion of the referral process.

  • An intake form must be completed for any child suspected of having a disability who is attending a private school (including homeschools) within NISD boundaries, and these student must be evaluated regardless in which district they reside.
  • A vision and hearing screening will need to be completed for these referrals, unless the parent provides a current vision and hearing screening from another source. Vision and Hearing must be completed prior to completing a referral for evaluation.
  • All timelines for assessment and ARD/IEP meetings must be met
  • District enrollment procedrues are applicable to all special education eligible students before any special education service can be provided. This includes students who only come to the public school campus to receive speechor other service plan services.
    • Enrollment: To enroll a student, the parent/guardian must go to the school where the student is to receive services to complete a registration packet. They must bring the following documents:
      • Birth Certificate
      • Social Security Card
      • Shot Records
      • Proof of Residency
      • Withdrawal papers from previous school
      • Driver's License

Please contact Shana Martin at 817.215.0075, or Charisse Byrne at 817.215.0054 in the Special Education Department office if you need more information on the Child Find process or if you are interested in having your child tested.