“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, September 10, 2007

Child find

Perhaps the most pivotal law in special education in the United States, is PL 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. There are several important precedents that were set by the legislation, however, in order to serve the children with disabilities, they first needed to be found. One critical component of the law, therefore, was called "child find." I can remember posters that were placed around the community that said something to the effect, "Do you know a child with a disability who would benefit from a public school education. Please refer them to ..." and so on. So as the government got into the business of providing special education services it had to first find the children to be served.

Fast forward 30+ years. The church should be in the "child find" business when it comes to children with disabilities. There should be signs around our communities saying something to the effect, "Do you know of a child with a disability, or of a family with a child with a disability would enjoy worshipping at a Christian church? Come to --- church where you will be welcomed and embraced. We want you and your family member with a disability to feel welcomed, and loved. You have a church home!" How about that for child find? Better yet, lets just call it person find... "Do you know a person with a disability looking for a church home?" I plan to approach people at my church for permission to put such signs in my community.

You see, there are churches with disabled members. Some have become disabled during their tenure attending a particular church. Some people with disabilities will arrive at a church, and the church hopefully tries to figure out how to include those people.
I want my church to be one that recruits people that other churches do
not want to recruit.
I want my church to be the "child find" or "adult find" or just simply "person find" church. Let people start with us. We can then not only serve them at our church, should that be their desire, but we can also talk to other churches to get the other churches to serve those individuals as well. So if a person from the Catholic, or Baptist or whatever faith comes to my church, I can say, "You are welcome here!" If they respond, "I wish there were a Baptist church locally that would serve us" we can respond, "Let us help you to become involved in that church." We could then contact that church. If they are open, great. If not, the people are welcome to stay at our church untill the Baptist church in the community is more open.

Why did the state have to find children under PL 94-142?

Because the state hadn't been serving the disabled population in the public schools.

Why does the church need to find children, adults, people with disabilities now?

Because the church has not been serving people with disabilities.

People with disabilities and their families probably as a group think that they are not welcome in churches. For us to sit back and say that we would accept them if they came is insufficient. We need to demonstrate to them our change of heart through our efforts to ask them to come. We have to go to them. We have to ask them to come.



Anonymous said...


I've been reading your blog for a while now, and have been impressed with your past few articles. This one really encouraged me. Thanks for writing!
steve boles
mark 2 ministries

Ellen said...

Thank you for this post. As a parent of a 2-year old who has Down Syndrome it is both encouraging and convicting.

May I include this in a Down Sydrome Carnival that I plan to post this weekend?

Jeff McNair said...

Please do share with others, Ellen and thank you for your comment.


Leticia said...

I'm glad Ellen shared this in the Down syndrome carnival, or I never would have read it. Bravo!
My Catholic diocese has an official outreach to the disabled child who wants religious education, however,I agree that we need individuals welcoming our children into every church.