The Child Find mandate is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA. There are a number of requirements of the Child Find mandate including that schools identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities who reside within their district. What it means is that school districts are obligated to test all children with disabilities, even if they are not enrolled in school, or are attending a private school.

Purpose of the Child Find Mandate

As part of the IDEA, the Child Find mandate is designed to ensure that all children, under the age of 21, are afforded the proper evaluation and services offered as part of the public school system and the IDEA. It is necessary to locate all those individuals who may be in need of services to assist with furthering their education, with the goal of preparing them for future work and independent living. Many parents of disabled children may not be aware of the many services that are available through the public school district.

Schools Must Evaluate

Under the Child Find mandate, schools are required by law to provide evaluate a child for all potential areas of disability.   These evaluation services are to be provided free of charge to the parents. It is almost always better to err on the side of caution. If a child may be considered disabled, testing should take place in order to verify or rule-out a disability.   Failure to provide testing could result in a lawsuit against the school or district, based on the Child Find mandate.

Locating Children to Be Tested

A variety of plans may be utilized in an effort to locate children who may need to be tested. Some of the acceptable methods of locating children include public meetings, flyers, mailings, door to door surveys, and referrals from physicians and other providers. These methods, and others, may be used to ensure that all potential children are located for testing. In order for schools to receive funding, they are required to provide a comprehensive plan for locating children.

Failure to Find Children

School districts are responsible for finding eligible children. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable for any damages that were a result of the oversight.  Parents may be able to file lawsuits in situations where a child should have been tested but it was not offered. To do so, they must be able to prove that school employees knew, or suspected, that a child was disabled, but failed to evaluate them. When a child should have received services, but the school district did not offer them, the school may be liable for damages.  When issues regarding the Child Find mandate arise, the situation should be reviewed by a knowledgeable education law attorney.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Requirements of the Child Find Mandate,  or any other education law matters, please feel free to contact our Education Law section at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.