The Child Development Services (CDS) system provides both Early Intervention (birth through two years) and Free Appropriate Public Education (for ages three through five years) under the supervision of the Maine Department of Education. The CDS system ensures the provision of special education rules, federal and state regulations statewide, through a network of regional sites.
- Regional CDS sites provide case management and direct instruction for families with children from birth through age five.
- Each site conducts Child Find, which is the process of identifying children with disabilities.
- Screenings and evaluations are provided in order to identify children who are eligible for services.
- Regional CDS sites arrange for local services that include early intervention and special education and related services for eligible child from birth to age five and their families.
Cumberland County: CDS Reach / 1011 Forest Avenue / Portland, ME 04103 / 207-781-8881
State CDS IEU at 877-770-8883
“Child Find” is an important part of Early Invention. The simple explanation to the question “what is Child Find?” is: “Child Find” is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to continuously search for and evaluate children who may have a disability. The primary purpose of IDEA is to ensure that all children with a disability, birth through age 21, receive free appropriate education, including special education and related services that meet their unique needs preparing them for further education, employment and independent living. Another purpose is to help states implement a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated multi-disciplinary system of Early Intervention services for young children with disabilities.
As early childhood educators, providers and staff know that the earlier the intervention the better for the child. An important part of our work at Country Fun Child Care is supporting children and their families. This means developing an open, honest channel of communication. Even with strong communication, we know discussing the need for evaluation around concerns in regards to a child’s development is a delicate situation. At the same time, we need to understand and accept what an important part of our job this is. In discussions with a child’s parents/legal guardians, it is important to remind them this free evaluation CDS provides can ultimately bring peace of mind – the evaluation team might conclude that the child does not have a disability, or if he or she does, that the needed help is readily available. Remind the child’s parents/legal guardians of the importance of early intervention. Together we are working to provide the best for their child.
Regardless of how a child’s parents/legal guardians may respond to the discussion, it’s important to also remember that providers and staff need to act in the best interest of the child. Child Find policies provide direction. For support resources and links go to the Maine DOE Child Development Services online referral form. / Child Find Intake Form