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Child Find

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Definition of Child Find

Child Find is the continuous process of locating, identifying, and evaluation all young children with special needs so they and their families can receive appropriate services at the earliest point in the child’s development. Effective child find is a carefully planned community-based, interdisciplinary effort coordinated among professionals, parents, agencies, and community organization and tailored to the unique needs of the community (Child Development Resources, 1992). In some states, local interagency coordinating councils are responsible for ensuring that the Part H child find efforts are coordinated with other child find programs such as those offered through Medicaid’s EPSDT program, Head Start, and the public schools. Additional information on EPSDT can be found at the end of this section.

The Purposes of Child Find are:

  • To raise community awareness to the availability of and rationale for early intervention programs, and
  • To describe some of the warning signs that might encourage a parent or professional to seek further services for a young child (Meisels & Provence, 1989)

The Medical Home: A Key Component of Child Find

Primary care physicians are in a unique position to identify infants and toddlers with or at risk for developmental delays or disabilities and to make referrals to early intervention services. Physicians are often the first professionals to whom parents turn when they have concerns about their children’s development. Because the primary care physician functions as the medical home for children, the physician’s office is frequently the entry point to services designed to foster children’s medical, social, and intellectual development (Pidcock, 1987). Physicians have a vital role in the system of child find.

The identification of young children who have or who are at risk for disabilities or developmental delays is based on commitments to:

  • Enhance the development of disabled infants and toddlers and to minimize their potential for developmental delay;
  • Reduce the education costs to our society by minimizing the need for special education and related services when infants and toddlers with disabilities reach school age;
  • Minimize the likelihood of institutionalization for individuals with disabilities and maximize their potential for independent living in society; and
  • Enhance the capacity of families to meet the special needs of their infants and toddlers with disabilities.

(Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, 1999) Child Development Resources PO Box 280, Norge, VA 23127

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