Child Find: Improving the Referral Process between Physicians and the Local Education Agency

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.S. in School Psychology


Department of Counselor Education and Human Services


Susan Davies


The Child Find mandate expects local school districts to identify children with suspected disabilities and provide a multi-factored evaluation in a timely manner. However, it is difficult for school districts to be aware of needs in children ages 0-5 before they start school. Although all states must meet the standards for finding children in need for intervention, the number of children with development delays is far higher than the number of children enrolled in intervention services. One way to meet this need is through physicians partnering with their local district to aid in the identification process. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between a physician’s years of experience and understanding of the referral process, as well as to better understand barriers between physicians and a school district that could limit the referral process. Through a mixed method constructivist design, using surveys and an in-depth interview, ten physicians located within the district provided insight into their understanding of the referral process, barriers to referrals, and strategies to improve the physician/district collaboration. A Pearson Correlation found no correlation between years of experience and understanding of the referral process. Responses to open-ended questions and the in-depth interview indicated perceived barriers due to limited physician/district communication. Collaboration was desired; however, physicians expected the district take the initiative to arrange informative meetings. The results of this study could be used to improve collaboration and communication for the improvement of the referral process.


Education, Educational Psychology, Special Education

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2023, Author