Connecting with your school district

If your child is not already in school, the first step is to talk with the Child Find (or Child Search) Department in your public school district.


It's best to contact your school district when your child is 2 years and 2 months, and no later than 2 1/2. There is a lot to do, and ideally your child should be ready to start the services by the time they turn 3.

Who do I contact? 

Image of a schoolhouse

  • To get support services, you'll work with your local school district. They are required to help students with disabilities succeed in school.
  • The Child Find department is in charge of the process of getting children set up with special education services when they turn 3. (In some districts they are called Child Search.)
  • If you have trouble finding Child Find, call the Special Education Department. (This is sometimes called ESS: Exceptional Student Services.)

Image of exceptional lives parent character beside a thought bubble with the text 'Developmental concerns?
(doesn’t have the same skills as other kids their age), Social or communication issues?, Emotional or behavioral issues?'


Here's what you can do:

1. Identify your areas of concern. What kinds of issues is your child having trouble with?

2. Find your school district's Child Find or Special Education Department. 

3. Call and talk to the Child Find Coordinator. Tell them about your child and your concerns, and ask how you start the process.

Image of exceptional lives Paula character on the phone. .    Image of a schoolhouse.

Image of an exclamation mark.Don't be scared by the term Special Education! It only means that your child will get special services to help them learn in school. It does not mean they are any less smart than others, just that they need some support at this time.

You might hear these terms:

  • Local Education Agency (LEA): your school system or district

  • SPED: Special Education program in your school district

  • IEP: Individualized Education Program: A document you create with the school team that describes your child's goals and the services they will get to work toward these goals.


The next step is to get an evaluation. Read that section to learn all about it!


Source: LA DOE