Indiana LEND - Act Early Partnership

The Centers for Disease Control has supported a brilliant early childhood development tracking campaign aimed at identifying delays at an earlier age, also known as Learn the Signs. Act Early. The materials designed under its program are targeted to parents to help them know their child's developmental milestones. And they are available in multiple formats including printable checklists, growth charts and brochures, and even a free, downloadable app. The CDC also knows that getting these materials into the right places can be done more effectively through its ambassador program.

Stephan Viehweg of the Indiana LEND has been the CDC's Learn the Signs Ambassador to Indiana since 2013. He uses this title to reach out to agency leaders and policy makers to figure out how to make these evidence based, free materials available to families across the state. Being an ambassador opens all sorts of doors and invites opportunities. Viehweg says, "I use the title of Ambassador liberally. It breaks the ice and allows people to ask more about what these resources are. People sometimes immediately think I am some imported expert, but really I am just a local guy sharing some awesome information that is easily accessible and at no cost." A main aim of these materials is to support parents in knowing the typical developmental milestones for their children from birth to age 5 to have more meaningful conversations with early care and medical providers. Viehweg has a reputation now as the guy who encourages people to talk about developmental milestones and to think about kids. He even asks everyone he meets to download the CDC Milestone Tracker app on their personal device when he speaks to various groups or talks to parents of young children. "This free resource is packed full of useful information. And families want to know more about development so they can feel more comfortable asking questions of their doctors and child care providers," says Viehweg. "An early intervention provider told me a family shared they found a way to help their child have less fits while they prepared dinner by simply looking at the app. What an endorsement for this amazing tool!"

Ambassadors work within their states to find creative ways to embed the Learn the Signs. Act Early. campaign into systems and programs. For example, Viehweg has partnered with library systems to help these community-based resources across the state make the CDC's materials available to all. Libraries have been very receptive to the campaign and display materials in their consumer areas. One library staffer in a rural northern Indiana community has become known as the local resource for information on early childhood development as a result.

AUCD member training programs have much to gain by partnering with their Ambassador. UCEDDs and LENDs are naturally poised to help state and community programs and systems find ways to use these free, evidence based materials. For more information about the materials and to find your closest Ambassador visit