mom and baby TRACE uses the following operational definitions of child find, referral, early identification, and eligibility determination practices for guiding the conduct of Center activities. The definitions make explicit the intent of each kind of practice in order to focus attention on their purposes, functions, characteristics, and desired outcomes. Although the same activity (e.g., outreach to hospitals) can serve different purposes (e.g., child find & referral), research indicates that the ways in which an activity is conceptualized and implemented matters in terms of its effect and outcome. Our Tracelines categorization paper includes a detailed description and explanation of each TRACE practice. Our Tracelines classification paper includes a list of specific types of child find, referral, early identification, and eligibility determination practices that constitute the focus of TRACE research syntheses and other activities.

Child Find

Child find means the methods and procedures used by Part C or Part B(619) program personnel to locate infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are in need of, or potentially in need of, early intervention or preschool special education programs operated as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The term refers to the efforts and activities of Part C and Part B(619) personnel to locate and identify and promote referrals to early intervention or preschool special education programs. Child find activities include a variety of public awareness activities, outreach programs, screening programs, collaborative activities, and high-risk tracking programs.


Referral means the procedures or steps taken by an individual or group on behalf of an infant, toddler or preschooler to obtain the opinion, supports, or services of another individual or group. Referral is used specifically by TRACE to mean practices that can be used to influence the decision-making processes used by non Part C/Part B(619) professionals to recommend or suggest child participation in early intervention or preschool special education, and the decisions made by parents to seek out early childhood intervention program staff opinion or advice.

Early Identification

Early identification refers to different methods, procedures, and practices used to determine the presence of an identified disability or delay or a condition that places a child at risk for a developmental delay or poor outcome. Early identification includes, but is not limited to, both traditional and nontraditional screening, assessment, evaluation, and teaming models and practices used to establish the presence of a disability, developmental delay, or risk condition.

Eligibility Determination

Eligibility means the procedures and criteria used to determine if a child meets the definitions established by states and jurisdictions for Part C or Part B(619) program enrollment. The information obtained from early identification or other procedures (e.g., informed clinical opinion) are the sources of evidence used for making an eligibility determination against established state criteria. Eligibility determination is a Part C/Part B(619) program-specific activity that links child find, referrals, and early identification with enrollment of children in early intervention or preschool special education.