April 26, 2004

Child Find Wants You!

Families in the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District received a form letter that began, "As you may know, federal and state law requires all public school districts to identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities residing within the jurisdiction of the public school district." This law, the "Child Find" requirement, applies to every public school in America that benefits from federal funding. Public schools are required to find every child they can who has a disability. Somewhat surprisingly, however, the law does not require parents to cooperate with this search.

If homeschool parents want special education services for a child in Arizona, they can ask to have their child evaluated for special needs, and then request public services to meet those needs. If parents do not believe the public school services are in their child's best interests, however, they are under no obligation to turn their child into the "Child Find" program.

HSLDA has repeatedly had to defend parents who object to having their child "labeled" as a special needs child. While this labeling may make the child eligible for additional benefits within the public school system, it does nothing to make a homeschool parent a better educator of their own child. Unless the child needs specific services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc, the child may benefit most from "learning without labels." One-on-one instruction by a caring and committed parent may be just what the child really needs.

HSLDA is committed to helping families provide their children with the right education for their child, whether that means seeking out additional resources or avoiding the coercive imposition of labels. By working together, HSLDA members are helping Arizona families get just what their children really need.