I believe unless you are going to ski swaps associated with race clubs, you are simply not going to find proper ski racing equipment. Race gear is different and not commonly purchased for kids unless the kids actually ski race. I don't know of any shops near me where you can either rent or lease race gear......the market is just too small and too boutique to make it work for the shops.
Now whether your child needs race equipment is purely dependent on how serious you are looking to get into the sport. But I can tell you at our club, every 7 year old and up has race equipment. A function of how the skis are built and what the kids are asking their skis to do. Typical skis designed for kids are cheaper, soft foam cores, flexible, more center mounted twin tips, etc. with what seems like more emphasis on the topsheet graphics than how they ski. They don't hold up on icy/hard pack the races normally ski on and don't typically hold an edge well. Nothing wrong with the gear, it just doesn't hold up to how the race kids ski as well as actual race skis. When you check out the clubs around your area, just watch how the kids ski and you'd be amazed as to how well they are pressuring their skis, angulating, etc. As such their demands on their equipment FAR exceed what typical non-race kids need at the same age.
Personally, I'd be leaning more to contacting race clubs, see when they have their swaps, getting to know parents and seeing what they do as their kids grow out of their gear. You don't have to break the bank to get decent race gear (you certainly can if you want to though.....). It's less about "latest and greatest" at your child's age, and more about what is the best tool to do the job. The latest and newest K2 "sweetie pie, zombie killer, or whatever" will be vastly inferior to a solid used race ski for what the race kids are doing. As mentioned you can find good deals on used race gear, just have to get to know the channels to do so (mentioned above).
The one thing that is an absolute MUST have is a helmet with hard ears. You can always tell which are the race kids because they are the only ones on the hill with the hard ear helmets.
Edited by hbear - 3/6/15 at 9:14am