By law, school evaluations for kids who struggle with learning are free. But for the most part, private evaluations are not free, and they can be expensive. Still, there are places that offer low-cost or free private evaluations. Here’s a list of resources that can help you find options in your area.
1. Local universities
Most universities have graduate programs in clinical psychology. Many also have programs in school psychology.
These programs typically have clinics where students do their training. They may offer free evaluations to families that need them. Students do the evaluations under the supervision of an experienced psychologist. You can contact your local college or university and ask if they have this type of clinic.
2. Teaching hospitals
Teaching hospitals may evaluate kids for free as part of research projects they’re working on. Check with hospitals in your area to see if that’s an option. The psychiatry department is the most likely to be doing research. You can also try the psychology and neurology departments.
3. Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA)
LDA provides information and resources to people with and their families. Each state has a local chapter. Call and ask if they can help you find low-cost evaluation options in your area.
4. Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs)
Every state has at least one PTI that provides support and information to families. Staff at the PTI may be able to suggest where to get a low-cost private evaluation. Some states also have Community Parent Resource Centers, which have more resources for low-income families. Learn how to find a PTI near you.
5. Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center)
ECTA is the central hub to find the early intervention services in your state. If your baby or toddler is behind other kids in development, visit ECTA to find out about a free evaluation. You can also look up the early intervention program in your state.
Samhsa.gov is the website of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. One of the challenges they cover is ADHD. Their site has a section called the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator that provides confidential information about local providers.
7. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) ADHD Resource Center
AACAP is a nonprofit resource center that provides information and clinical resources for parents. Use the AACAP website to find child and adolescent psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in your area.
8. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Network
HRSA provides a nationwide network of community health centers for families who don’t have access to primary health care. Finding a center near you can be a good way to look for a low-cost specialist.
9. Children’s Dyslexia Centers, Inc.
This Scottish Rite Masons project has centers that provide free dyslexia tutoring services in over a dozen states. The centers don’t do diagnostic testing, but you can contact them to help you find someone who does. (If you live in Texas, the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children will take referrals for evaluation at the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia.)
This free service connects people with a range of services in their area. In almost every state, you can call 2-1-1 to get easy access to information about health and human services. 211’s specialists help evaluate your needs and figure out your options for local programs and services to help.
11. Health insurance
If you have health insurance, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance company, too. Your policy may cover some or all of the cost of an evaluation. Some types of evaluations may not be covered, though.
Being a strong advocate for your child means knowing where to look for help. If you’re considering a private evaluation, this list of resources is a good start. You may also want to see the pros and cons of a school evaluation versus a private evaluation. Also, explore questions to ask before choosing a private evaluator.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.