Do you have a toddler or preschooler who is having difficulty meeting developmental milestones like other young children? Does your elementary student struggle to learn how to read or meet other academic standards? Do you have a middle school student who is having some issues with behavior or getting along socially? Is your high school student prepared to transition to life after high school? Does your child have a health or physical condition that is affecting his/her educational performance? If your child is experiencing any of these, or other related situations, your child may have an educational disability and may be entitled to receive additional assistance from the educational system.
In Iowa, as in all other states in our nation, there is a process that families and schools can access, which will help determine whether or not your child has an educational disability, and if your child is entitled to receive additional assistance through special education services. This process is called Child Find. Child Find is a provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which “ensures that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.”
The primary purpose of the Child Find process is to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities and who are in need of special education and related services. To that end, Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEA) work in partnership with local school districts to seek out children who may have an educational disability. An educational disability is defined as a skills deficit, a health or physical condition, a functional limitation, or a pattern of behavior that adversely affects educational performance and may interfere with access to general education settings and opportunities, and involvement and progress in the general curriculum.
Whenever parents or school personnel suspect that a child may have a disability, the first step in the Child Find process is to consider all the information related to the concern. This is best done by parents, school and AEA personnel getting together to discuss the information and determine the next steps in the process. If the relevant information suggests that your child may have a disability, the district and AEA are obligated to evaluate your child and ask for your consent to conduct the evaluation. Good communication between families, schools and the AEA is critical in the Child Find process working well to benefit your child.
If you have questions about special education services, please call the closest AEA 267 office near you:
AEA 267 Clear Lake office –ph. 1-800-392-6640
AEA 267 Cedar Falls office—ph. 1-800-392-6640
AEA 267 Marshalltown—ph. 1-800-735-1539
Tom Salkeld is a Special Education Coordinator with Area Education Agency 267 and can be reached at 319-273-8254. Area Education Agency 267 serves over 66,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.