Federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), mandates that each state has a process for identifying and evaluating children with disabilities from birth through age 21, including children who are homeschooled or in private school. This process is called Child Find. Screenings and evaluations conducted by Child Find teams are at no cost to parents.
If you or your child’s physician believe your child has a developmental delay or has not yet met specific milestones, you can refer your child to Child Find. You must go through your school district’s Child Find program for assistance. The Colorado Department of Education provides detailed information and a list of all Colorado Child Find Programs on its site: https://www.cde.state.co.us/early/childfind
In Colorado, please know that the Child Find process is implemented differently for 3 specific age groups, 0-3yrs, 3-5yrs, and 5-21yrs. For children under the age of five, a Child Find team will evaluate how your child plays, learns, speaks, behaves, and moves to determine if there is a significant delay and if there is a need for Early Intervention (birth – 3yrs) or public school preschool special education services (3yrs – 5yrs). Children 5yrs and older are evaluated by the Special Education team at their school of attendance.
Child Find (Birth - 3)
Children birth to 3yrs old are evaluated by a Child Find Team. If eligible, Early Intervention (EI) services are delivered through the local Community Center Board (CCB). The CCB for Jefferson, Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties is called the Developmental Disabilities Resources Center (DDRC - https://ddrcco.com/)
To initiate an evaluation, your place of residence is important:
- If you reside in Jefferson County School District, to refer your child for an evaluation, call DDRC at (303) 462-6619 and ask for “Service Coordination.” They can help you begin the evaluation process.
- If you reside in Clear Creek School District, contact the child Find Coordinator by calling the district office at (303)-567-3850. Here is the link to their Child Find Screening brochure: http://www.ccsdre1.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=10785&pageId=528967
- If you reside in Gilpin County School District, call the district office at (303) 582-4333 and ask for the Child Find Coordinator. Note: you may be referred to the Special Education Coordinator of the Colorado Mountain B.O.C.E.S (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). Here is their website: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/mountainboces
Once your child has been evaluated the team will determine if your child is eligible for services. If eligible, the Early Intervention team will be notified and an Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP) will be developed. Services typically begin after finalizing the IFSP and are coordinated by the Early Intervention Team.
If your child is not eligible for Early Intervention services, discuss with the team additional community resources that may be available for you and your child. In the future, you may re-refer your child to Child Find if other concerns or needs arise.
For more details about Early Intervention Colorado, visit their website: http://coloradoofficeofearlychildhood.force.com/eicolorado/EI_Families?p=Family&s=For-Families&lang=en
Child Find (3-5 years)
Children aged 3-5 years are evaluated as a part of the preschool special education process. The Child Find team will evaluate your child and determine if your child is eligible for special education services in the areas of learning, speech, language, motor skills, and social/emotional needs. If eligible, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be developed. Services typically begin after finalizing this plan and you will then work with the IEP team at your child’s public preschool.
If you live in Jefferson County and your child is not yet attending a Jeffco Preschool, call Child Find at (303) 982-7247 to begin the evaluation process OR you can visit the school district website to complete the Child Find Referral Form here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdNv0PXnZDclxTZ_337lNqKZMQp_Q7z5H07SIpcqwFprGsQJA/viewform
If your child is attending a Jeffco Preschool, contact your school team by submitting a written request for evaluation or complete the Child Find Referral Form below: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdNv0PXnZDclxTZ_337lNqKZMQp_Q7z5H07SIpcqwFprGsQJA/viewform
If you live outside of Jefferson County, call your school district’s Child Find program. Below is the directory for finding your Child Find contact info: https://www.cde.state.co.us/early/childfinddirectoryinfo
If your child is not eligible for Preschool Special Education services, discuss with the team additional community resources that may be available for you and your child. In the future, you may re-refer your child to Child Find if other concerns or needs arise.
Special Education (5-21 years)
Students 5-21yrs are evaluated by the Special Education Team at the child’s school of attendance. The Child Find team and school staff typically don’t use the term “Child Find” to describe the evaluation process, primarily because the evaluation is conducted by the special education team at the child’s school, not the team from the Child Find office. Students still need to be referred, either by teachers or parents, for an evaluation to be conducted.
When school staff identify a student as needing additional support, an intervention plan is typically developed. In this initial phase, all interventions take place in the general education classroom. The interventions are then documented and monitored for progress. If the progress monitoring does not show sufficient progress (i.e., the child isn’t responding to the interventions), the team usually refers the student for an initial special education evaluation.
Parents can also refer their child for a special education evaluation. This must be done in writing and submitted to the school principal. Visit this link for more information on requesting an initial evaluation: https://www.parentcenterhub.org/evaluation-2/
School teams do not automatically have to evaluate a student just because a parent requests an evaluation. They must, however, provide the parent with a Prior Written Notice document stating the reason why they will not be evaluating the student.
If the school decides to evaluate, you will be given a Permission for Evaluation form to sign. From the date you sign permission, the evaluation team (again, typically not called “Child Find” at this level) has 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation and hold an eligibility meeting. Then, at the eligibility meeting, if your child is determined to be eligible under one of the Special Education disability categories, the team has an additional 30 days to develop an IEP. Please note, your child must meet the specific criteria under one of the 14 categories to qualify for special education services. Visit the Colorado Department of Education’s site for more detailed information about each of the Disability Categories: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/sd-main
Also watch The Arc training videos on Eligibility and Evaluation for further information: https://www.arcjc.org/gethelp/classestraining/idea/
If your child does not qualify, discuss other options of support with the school team (e.g., 504 Plan, a Behavior Plan, and RtI/MTSS intervention plan). In the future, you may re-refer your child if other concerns or needs arise.