Minnesota Act Early Team Actively Targets Culturally Diverse Communities

January 21, 2015

Developmental disabilities are common in the United States. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 4 children are at risk for a developmental delay, and 1 in 6 has been diagnosed with a developmental disability. While significant national attention has focused on early screening, significant disparities in screening and diagnosis remain. Children from diverse communities are less likely to be diagnosed with ASD and are typically diagnosed later, delaying access to specialized early intervention (Mandell, Listerud, Levy, & Pinto Martin, 2002).

The Minnesota Act Early team has actively targeted these disparities in their community through outreach to culturally diverse communities. One of the primary goals has been to build both awareness and capacity within local diverse communities. The project reaches out to diverse communities to educate about screening and build expertise within communities around healthy development, the importance of regular developmental screening, early warning signs of ASD/NDDs, and early intervention.

Spreading the Act Early message within diverse communities has taken many different forms. A creative approach has been the development of statewide Minnesota Act Early Network of partners and delegates. The MN Act Early team in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health will be identifying cultural liaisons within local diverse communities and then nominating Act Early delegates within local communities. Formed in 2012, the Act Early delegate network reach out to their local communities and educate families around early screening. This has been an effective approach as it takes the message directly to the community from a trusted community member and builds ongoing capacity directly within the community. Drawing on statewide input, the Act Early team has addressed the training needs of health care professionals in working with diverse communities. The Act Early team hosted a webinar with healthcare providers, which can be found at: http://lend.umn.edu/forums/screenings.asp.  To date, the Minnesota Act Early team has participated in variety of outreach campaigns within diverse communities:

  • Significant outreach to Somali community including translation of Act Early Materials into Somali. Milestone booklet (Somali version) has been downloaded 8,756 times. Over 3,000 translated developmental brochures handed out to individual Somali parents and families.
  • Outreach and translation of Act Early Materials into Hmong language (release February 2015).
  • Numerous presentations and outreach events to diverse communities including Head Start, Minneapolis Early Childhood Academy, Parents in Community Action, Minnesota Social Services Association, Early Childhood Family Education.
  • Partnership with Minnesota Department of Health to build Act Early delegates within diverse communities and diverse organizations. The partnership  will build capacity within diverse communities around early screening.
  • Building Cultural Competence Webinar series including : "Building Connections with Hmong Families: Culturally Competent Approaches to Child Development on: https://umconnect.umn.edu/hmongltsae/
  • Upcoming Webinar: "Building Connections with Somali Families: Culturally Competent Approaches to Child Development"

The MN Act Early team will soon be launching a new website in 2015. Resources related to cultural engagement, training, and translated materials will be available here. Please visit us soon at ltsae.umn.edu