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Child Find

It is the policy of the State of Missouri that all children with disabilities, residing in the state, including children with disabilities who are homeless children or are wards of the state, and children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who are in need of special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated. This requirement applies to highly mobile children with disabilities (such as migrant and homeless children) and children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education even though they are advancing from grade to grade. The State of Missouri also ensures that it has procedures in place to determine which children are receiving needed special education and related services.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is the agency responsible for coordinating the planning and implementation of the child find activities for children birth to twenty-one (21).

The following  state agencies participate in the planning and implementation of child find activities:

  • Department of Mental Health
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Social Services
  • Department of Corrections

Additional information can be found in the Missouri State Plan for Special Education, Regulation III Identification and Evaluation.

How to make a referral to the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program.

Parents of a child who is 3-5 years old or approaching age 3 who suspect their child may have a developmental delay or disabling condition that may affect the child educationally, are encouraged to contact the local school district to make a referral for an evaluation. If a child approaching the age of 3 is already receiving services in Missouri's First Steps system, by the age of 2 years 9 months, a transition meeting will be held and, with permission from the child's parent(s), the local school district will attend that meeting to discuss the ECSE program. At this time the parent(s) will be given a copy of the Procedural Safeguards for Children and Parents statement. This explains the rights afforded to parent(s) and children in the ECSE program.

Process After a Referral is Made

Within 30 days of the referral, the local school district will determine if an evaluation of the child is necessary. If it is decided that an evaluation is warranted, a review of existing data, including information from the parent(s), will be conducted by a group of individuals including: the child's parent(s), a representative of the school district, a special education teacher, an individual qualified to interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results and other individuals, as appropriate. If this group concludes that additional data is needed to determine: 

  • The child's eligibility for ECSE
  • ​The child's need for special education and related services
  • The child's present level of educational performance
  • Any modification or accommodation necessary to allow the child to meet the goals of an IEP

The parent(s) will be notified of the school district's intent to evaluate. A written parental consent to continue the evaluation process may be required depending on needed assessments.

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