Partnership for Nevada: LEND and Act Early Collaboration

Since the inception of the Nevada LEND (NvLEND) program, Nevada Learn the Signs Act Early (NvLTSAE) has been an annual leadership project supported by NvLEND and the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED). NvLEND faculty oversee NvLTSAE and trainees can choose to participate in the NvLTSAE projects. This relationship between NvLEND, the NCED, and NvLTSAE has had many advantages for the trainees, NvLEND, and the state.

NvLEND trainees are afforded the opportunity to not only participate in a CDC initiative, but also get guidance from NvLEND faculty regarding their own personal leadership goals related to developmental monitoring and screening. Trainees organize and set the agenda for the annual Nevada Act Early Summit, which has occurred for seven consecutive years. The trainees also give presentations regarding their NvLEND leadership projects at the Summit. Such Summit-related tasks provide valuable opportunities for NvLEND trainees to hone their leadership skills.

NvLEND has experienced many benefits from its partnership with NvLTSAE. Learn the Signs has helped to establish and grow relationships with state and public agencies and parent groups, which has increased NvLEND's state-wide visibility. NvLEND is now seen as a leader in the early detection and monitoring arena and is often sought out by public agencies and parent groups for technical assistance on various projects. Additionally, state agencies, in particular, now see the Nevada Act Early annual summit as an important vehicle through which they can both highlight outcome data and seek public input. Further, the LTSAE Summit provides a venue through which collaboration can be actively fostered and promoted. For example, Nevada Medicaid representatives attend the Summit annually and offer technical assistance to providers and families related to Medicaid billing. This simple collaborative effort has been particularly effective in reducing funding silos that have long plagued Nevada's service system.

The partnership between LTSAE and NvLEND has also been beneficial to state agencies. For example, the Nevada Maternal and Child Health Program has a goal to increase the use of developmental screenings. A current NvLTSAE project conducts developmental monitoring through the Intertribal Council of Nevada WIC program and makes subsequent referrals for screening purposes. The data is provided to Nevada's MCH program and subsequently reported to the federal government. An additional ongoing NvLTSAE project provides free continuing education units to childcare providers through video modules housed on the NvLTSAE website. The video modules include topics such as developmental monitoring and screening, inclusion, how to manage challenging behaviors, ASD, and tips in talking to parents. This convenient, quality training opportunity has also assisted Nevada MCH office with meeting several federal mandates related to workforce development.

Clearly, Nevada has benefitted from the partnership between NvLEND and NvLTSAE. Fostering the partnership has not been without challenges, especially issues related to finances and personnel. However, working tirelessly to overcome such challenges has resulted in a service system with much more capacity to provide early detection and monitoring services for Nevada's most vulnerable children.