Excerpt Chapter Eight


Excerpt from Chapter Eight:

Operation Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Child Find


My beautiful and brilliant niece, Emily, and I have trouble understanding the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Goldie breaks into the bears’ house and then gets choosey about the quality of their porridge, the comfort of the living room furniture, and the sleep number of each of their beds. In the words of Emily, “Aunt Ellen, this doesn’t make any sense.” Although Emily is right, something about Goldilocks fascinates me. I believe Goldie has the potential to be the mischievous mascot for Child Find. Since Goldie enters a foreign environment with confidence, determination, and purpose, imagine how well she would do representing the interests of Catholic schools pertaining to Child Find and Equitable Participation.


Placing Goldilocks in a position where a portion of the porridge rightfully belongs to her, what would the bears do then? It has been years, since a representative of the United States Department of Education announced at the NCEA Conference in Indiana, that Child Find is “a great gift to the Catholic schools.” In many instances, the potential of the Child Find gift remains beneath the tree as Catholic administrators and teachers throughout the country struggle to unwrap it.


Each child with a special need, who attends a Catholic school, may have the right to be tested through Child Find. An Evaluation Report (ER) may be required for a student to be counted. Each child who is counted equals an equitable share of certain federal money. In 2009, each child counted also equaled stimulus money. Are you educating children with special needs in your Catholic school? Is there proof of that? Is it on the record? Why not? A few minutes of research reveals that Catholic schools from Alaska to Montana, to Connecticut to California are facing the Child Find challenge. We must pull together.


If you find yourself unprepared for the Child Find/Equitable Participation deadline of December 1st, resolve that this will be the last December 1st that you will be unprepared. Use the next eleven months to prepare. When I was the Assistant Superintendent for Special Education with Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I spent a year gearing up for December 1st and when it arrived, we were ready. Hundreds of students, who were not counted through Child Find the year before, were counted one year later. How did we make this happen?


Child Find/Equitable Participation:

Operation Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Goldilocks: Appoint someone who is driven and will not be dissuaded

Papa Bear: You can’t be too strong in your knowledge of the regulations

Mama Bear: You can’t be too soft in how you present information to parents

Baby Bear: Your in-service of fellow administrators and teachers must be just right.


We have many children who live in Philadelphia and attend a Catholic school in the suburbs. Year after year, these children had been falling through the cracks in the Child Find system. The year that we had regulation 300.131 at our fingertips, we fought to have those children, who live in the city, counted through Child Find, and we won. I am confident that our friend, Goldilocks, would find areas of the Child Find/Equitable Participation process too easy, others too difficult, and a few, just right. What she would not do is settle for anything less than the best to which she is entitled.


We had luck using this sample parental letter:

Sample Parental Letter for Child Find





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