Minnesota LEND and Minnesota Act Early Project Collaboration


pdf File MN Act Early LEND Project for LEND Fellows.pdf (129KB) [download]

pdf File MN ACT Early Delegate Project.pdf (3,267KB) [download]

The Minnesota LEND and Minnesota Act Early Project have been strong and committed partners in Minnesota. The CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early. (LTSAE) " is a collaborative public health initiative focusing on the importance of early developmental monitoring, developmental screening, and early identification of autism and other developmental disabilities (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/index.html). LTSAE collaborates with systems to integrate developmental monitoring with LTSAE messages and materials into local communities and systems that serve families with young children (birth-5). The MN Act Early Project is the state project in Minnesota promoting the LTSAE message and materials (https://addm.umn.edu/ltsae).

In Minnesota, LEND Fellows come from many different backgrounds and bring diverse connections and expertise. MN LEND Fellows are selected for their outstanding skills, leadership potential, and lived experiences. MN LEND fellows must show a commitment to improving the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities and their families. Some are graduate and post-doctoral students within the University of Minnesota. MN LEND also has robust cohort of community fellows who are self-advocates, family members, and community professionals. Of particular support to LTSAE has been the MN LEND community fellow program, as it has expanded the MN LEND program to highlight the expertise and connections of parents and community members. The community fellow model has leveraged valuable community connections and provided an avenue for expansion into new communities and family organizations.

MN LEND and the LTSAE campaign share a common mission to support healthy childhood development, early intervention, and empowering families. The MN LEND program and LTSAE have formed a valuable partnership in which all LEND students receive training in healthy child development and LTSAE resources. Through this shared mission, MN LEND has supported the MN Act Early Project through the commitment of resources including LEND fellow time and the development of LTSAE resources for local communities.

Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande, a former MN LEND Fellow and current MN LEND faculty as well as CDC's Act Early Ambassador to MN saw an opportunity to bridge the two programs through recruiting fellows to complete their year-long LEND projects through sharing and promoting LTSAE resources. Fellows receive leadership experience, ongoing mentoring, and a title of MN Act Early Delegate. The LEND Fellow then works with a system of integration (e.g. child care, clinic, parent groups, etc.) for educating families about the importance of developmental monitoring and screening. LEND fellows commit approximately 45-60 hours of time to this outreach. To support recruitment, Dr. Hall-Lande has composed an overview of project expectations to help LEND fellows structure their project (view attached document).

The MN LEND and MN Act Early collaboration has enriched both programs and provided an opportunity to leverage community connections and creatively apply ideas to community outreach and systems change. To date, 15 MN LEND fellows have participated in LTSAE outreach and contributed over 1000 hours of community outreach. Projects have ranged from integrating into a variety of systems including county library systems, child care centers, cultural communities (Somali, Latino/Latina, Hmong, Oromo), local child welfare systems, community health care clinics, curriculum for nurse practitioners, and LTSAE website and social media development. The partnership has resulted in new collaborative community partnerships and significantly strengthened community connections with MN LEND. Further, it has helped us branch out to new communities that we might not have otherwise connected. For a sample of MN LEND fellow community LTSAE projects, please view attached document.

In conclusion, the MN LEND program and MN Act Early have formed a powerful and successful partnership resulting in a significant amount of community outreach and expansion into new communities and early childhood systems in Minnesota. This partnership is a powerful example of the combined program focus on a shared mission of promoting early identification, empowering the community, and improving the lives of children and families.