IDEA is very specific with regard to each States obligation to find children with a disability no matter where they attend school, if even at all. This obligation known as Child Find is the cornerstone of early intervention. Each State needs to establish procedures for how this is accomplished by getting the information to the proper establishments. These could include, pediatricians, daycares, preschools, homeless shelters, foster homes, orphanages, and private schools. IDEA included Child Find because it is crucial to find children with disabilities and intervene as early as possible. Early intervention could be the difference needed for a child to become self sufficient as an adult. The basic premise of Child Find is the most effective when there is public awareness. This becomes the States responsibility as to how to create that awareness. Normally, there is more than one State Agency involved in coordinating Child Find.
Below is the Child Find definition from IDEA:
(A) In General. 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 disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated and a practical method is developed and implemented to determine which children with disabilities are currently receiving needed special education and related services.
(B) Construction. Nothing in this title requires that children be classified by their disability so long as each child who has a disability listed in Section 1401 of this title and who, by reason of that disability, needs special education and related services is regarded as a child with a disability under this part.
The States or local School District obligation under Child Find does not go away if the parents decline services under an IEP. For instance, if a child attending a private school is assessed and offered an IEP with placement in a local public school, if the parents decline, the School District still has some obligations to that child. The child find process is designed to ensure the equitable participation of private school children placed by their parents. A service plan should be developed and implemented for each private school child with a disability who has been identified by the School District to receive special education. The School District should initiate and conduct meetings to develop, review, and revise a service plan for a child designated to receive services. A service plan is not an IEP and does not give your child the same protection. Typically, a service plan is consultative in nature and requires the School District to work with representatives from the private schools to better meet the child’s needs. The School District is not responsible for paying for any additional services.