Child Find

What Is Child Find?

Child Find is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening and evaluation designed to locate, identify, and refer as early as possible all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of Early Intervention Program (Part C) or Preschool Special Education (Part B/619) services of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

To receive Early Intervention Program or Special Education, children must meet eligibility guidelines according to the IDEA. States have different eligibility guidelines for their Early Intervention Program and Special Education services. In addition to children with disabilities, some states have elected to provide early intervention services for infants and toddlers who are at risk of developmental delay and their families. For information on the definition of disability under IDEA and eligibility criteria for early intervention in your state, contact your state’s Part C coordinator at http://www.nectac.org/contact/Ptccoord.asp.

IDEA requires all states to have a “comprehensive Child Find system” to assure that all children who are in need of early intervention or special education services are located, identified, and referred. The lead agency for Part C of IDEA Early Intervention Program and for Part B/619 (serving preschoolers with special educational needs) in each state is responsible for planning and implement a comprehensive child find system.  In our state, the Oklahoma State Department of Education/Special Education Services/SoonerStart, is the division that can assist parents needing guidance.

All children deserve a chance to reach their full potential. Project Child Find, a service to assist families of children who may have special needs, is here in Oklahoma to see that every child has that chance.  The Oklahoma Parents Center has a Project Child Find Hotline, 1-888-9-OKFIND or 1-888-965-3463.  If there appears to be a delay in any area of your child’s development, you may seek assistance from Project Child Find. The OPC staff is happy to guide you to the appropriate people/services for extra assistance.  Even if a child is not yet school age, he or she may benefit from screening and evaluation.  SoonerStart will complete the developmental screening, evaluation of the child’s development or both at no direct cost to the family. 

SoonerStart is Oklahoma’s Early Intervention program for families of infants and toddlers birth to 36 months who have developmental delays, disabilities or both. SoonerStart services are designed to meet the developmental needs of each eligible child and the needs of the family related to enhancing the child’s development. The information below  is intended to help you develop a better understanding of the SoonerStart program and process.

Who can make a SoonerStart referral?
  • Professionals
  • Family members
  • Childcare workers
  • Neighbors
  • Other interested individuals
Why make a SoonerStart referral?

Concerns are noted with an infant or toddler’s current development based on observation, developmental screening or both. An infant or toddler may be diagnosed with a physical or mental condition having a high probability of resulting in developmental delay. Examples include, but are not limited to, vision or hearing impairment, chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome or metabolic disorders.

How is a SoonerStart referral made?

Determine the child’s county of residence and then identify the appropriate SoonerStart office for the county. Contact the identified SoonerStart office by phone or provide the family with the SoonerStart contact information—a written referral is optional.

What information is needed to make a referral?
  • Child’s name, gender, and date of birth
  • Name, address and telephone number of parent or legal guardian
  • Reason for the referral
  • Child’s diagnosed physical or mental condition as applicable
  • Your name and contact information
What does the family need to know?

Participation in the SoonerStart program is voluntary.

What happens if the child is eligible for SoonerStart services?

The family will be given the option to either accept or decline services. If accepted, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) identifying the needed services and supports for the child and the family will be developed. The family will participate in identifying these services and supports.

OKLAHOMA CONTACT and link for further reading: http://www.ok.gov/sde/soonerstart-0

Mark Sharp, Executive Director
Special Education Services
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Oliver Hodge Memorial Education Building, 4th Floor
2500 North Lincoln Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4599

Phone: (405) 521-4880
Fax: (405) 522-3503

Email: mark.sharp@sde.ok.gov
Website: http://ok.gov/sde/soonerstart