Act Early Network News, Spring 2020

May 21, 2020


Summer 2020 Issue

   Meet Our Five New Act Early Ambassadors! 

The Milestones Matter Community is a new social-media project organized by the Act Early Ambassadors. Inspired by the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” initiative, the ambassador-run Facebook page serves as a community of parents, grandparents, friends and professionals who care about supporting the developmental health of all children. Families and early childhood professionals have a wonderful opportunity to help the development of young children in their care. Understanding how children develop and acting early on developmental concerns is important in helping children achieve their full potential. With the goal of educating and sharing information about early child development, the Milestones Matter page will provide tips, along with parent-friendly tools and resources, to support parents and other care providers in monitoring their young children’s early development. Like, follow and share our Milestones Matter Community Facebook page, because milestones matter when it comes to early child development.

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   Three New States Will Implement LTSAE in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

NCBDDD, through the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN), has awarded state WIC programs in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Nevada to implement developmental monitoring using LTSAE. These state WIC programs will be implementing a model that was developed with the University of Missouri, in close collaboration with WIC staff. This new project aims to build capacity in other states to adapt, implement, and assess the Missouri-tested model into WIC clinics across their state. Learn more about LTSAE in WIC. For more information about LTSAE, please email [email protected].

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Meet the New Cohort of Learn the Signs. Act Early. Ambassadors

CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) with support from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), are pleased to announce the new cohort of Act Early Ambassadors. There are now 54 Ambassadors in 48 states, DC, and 3 territories.

Click to view CDC’s 2019-2021 Act Early Ambassadors

Act Early Ambassadors work with CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. (LTSAE) program to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities, including autism, in the following ways:

• Promoting the adoption and integration of LTSAE resources and materials to support developmental monitoring in systems that serve young children and their families

• Serving as a state or territorial representative of CDC’s national LTSAE program

• Supporting the work of Act Early Teams and other state/territorial or national initiatives to improve early identification of developmental delay and disability

Please contact Danielle Webber at [email protected] or 202-525-9476 with any questions regarding the Act Early Ambassador Program.   

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Baby’s Busy Day – Being One is So Much Fun! PDFs Now Available

Talk, read, sing and play with your child every day. CDC’s amazing books can help! Baby’s Busy Day (Un día ocupado del bebé, en Español), Where is Bear? (¿Dónde Está Osito?, en Español), and Amazing Me (Soy Maravilloso, en Español), are fun for children and show you what to look for as your child grows. The newest book in this collection, Baby’s Busy Day (Un día ocupado del bebé, en Español), is now available in PDF and for local printing. Meet Baby, a one-year-old puppy who is having a very busy day! Follow along as Mom, Dad, and Sis engage Baby throughout his day while encouraging his development along the way! As you read this fun story with your little one, keep an eye out for the paw prints to learn what one-year-old milestones to look for in your baby’s development, and the hearts for tips on how you can help! Download the book as a PDF in English or Spanish

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Immunization Resources for Act Early Network Partners

CDC recommends all children receive vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule to protect them from 14 diseases by age two.

As part of the LTSAE network, you can help raise awareness of the important role that immunization plays in the development of children 0-2 years old. National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) in August is a great way to get involved.

CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases has developed resources for you to share during NIAM and throughout the year:

“How Vaccines Work” animated videos: This series of three 1-minute videos teaches parents and pregnant women about how vaccines protect babies from serious diseases.

Growing Up with Vaccines: What Should Parents Know?: This infographic walks parents through their child’s vaccination milestones from the womb through graduation.

Social media content
-CDC has a wealth of graphics, animated videos, infographics, and more that you can share via email or social media.

-Facebook and Twitter using these sample social media posts in English and Spanish.

-Share our vaccine website for parents with anyone who is seeking credible vaccine information.

Slide Decks
If you work with healthcare professionals or child care programs in your community, you can customize and use these slide decks:

-Training Child Care Providers:
Childcare providers have an important role to play by verifying immunization records and educating parents about the benefits of immunization. Use this slide deck to train childcare providers in your community. It is intended for use by health departments, coalitions, Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, and other organizations that work with childcare programs. You may customize it with your own slide template, logo and state-specific information.

-Childhood Immunization Update:
This 1-hour presentation for healthcare professionals provides an overview of current childhood immunization successes and challenges. It also describes findings from CDC audience research, tips for communicating with parents, and CDC resources for healthcare professional education and parent education. This presentation is intended for use by physicians or vaccine coordinators during grand rounds presentations or other educational meetings.

Thank you for helping promote this important issue. If you have any questions, please email CDC’s childhood immunization campaign team. You can also sign up to receive the campaign’s quarterly newsletter here.

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New Jersey Act Early Ambassador, Deepa Srinivasavaradan, Authors Exceptional Parent Article: Early Identification of Developmental Concerns in Young Children

Deepa Srinivasavaradan is the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. Ambassador for New Jersey and the State Parent Lead for New Jersey’s Early Childhood Initiatives-Help Me Grow, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Impact, and Home Visiting CoIIN 2.0. She is also a New Jersey LEND Family Fellow and the Southern Regional Coordinator of the Family to Family Health Information Center at SPAN Parent Advocacy Network. Her article “Early Identification of Developmental Concerns in Young Children” focuses on developmental health promotion and was published in the March 2019 Issue of Exceptional Parent Magazine.

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Childcare Providers’ Attitudes, Knowledge, and Practice Related to Developmental Monitoring to Promote Early Identification and Referral

This recent article published in Early Child Development and Care, “Childcare providers’ attitudes, knowledge, and practice related to developmental monitoring to promote early identification and referral” was authored by three Act Early Ambassadors-Gail Chodron (Wisconsin Act Early Ambassador Emeritus), Kris Barnekow (Wisconsin Act Early Ambassador), and Stephan Viehweg (Indiana Act Early Ambassador) and colleagues on research results related to LTSAE in childcare settings.

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Results from a Pediatric Quality Improvement Project to Improve Identification of Developmental Delays and Disabilities

Clinical Pediatrics has published a new article, Improving Developmental Screening, Discussion, and Referral in Pediatric Practice. This publication summarizes the findings from a quality improvement (QI) project led by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) with support from Learn the Signs. Act Early., a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the 3-month project period, 28 participating pediatricians completed an in-person meeting, participated in monthly webinars, and received individualized feedback from an expert work group. In addition to improving developmental and autism screening rates, this QI project specifically addressed engaging families and discussion of screening results in an effort to improve referral and follow up on concerns. Participants were provided with tools including Learn the Signs. Act Early., AAP Bright Futures, and Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive resources. While developmental screening rates did not change significantly, rates of autism screening, discussions of results with families, and referral for concerns all significantly increased.

Main Findings:

-Discussions of developmental screening results increased from 77% to 93% of families
-Discussion of autism screening results increased from 72% to 92% of families
-Timely referrals increased from 57% to 96% for developmental delay and from 26% to 93% for abnormal autism screen

Although the AAP recommends surveillance (monitoring) and screening for general development and autism for all children, many children are not monitored or screened and potentially miss the opportunity for services to help them reach their full potential. This project showed that there are steps pediatric practices can take to improve developmental screening, discussion of results, and referral processes. Resources are available to replicate a similar QI project in your organization.  

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Early Childhood Development in Costa Rica Focus of California State Study Abroad Experience

When 20 students majoring in child and adolescent development flew to Costa Rica this past spring break, they knew they would be experiencing a Central American country far different than Orange County, CA.They also knew that the one-week study abroad experience would give them an opportunity to put their classroom education to practical use in a global setting: working with babies and toddlers born to teen mothers. “The trip was very life-changing,” said Nancy Yanez, whose goal is to go into occupational therapy. “It was such a great experience; it made the whole college experience that much more special.” Diana Robles, lecturer in child and adolescent studies and the fieldwork adviser for the program, has led the service-learning practicum to Costa Rica for several years. For the last two years, thanks to Robles’ work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, child and adolescent development majors have been using the agency’s development milestones tracker to conduct evaluations of the infants and toddlers at a Costa Rica adolescent and pregnancy group home. “These students saw child development in the flesh,” explained Robles. “What you see in a class or on a film is vastly different than working with actual children, especially those from a different culture, a different socio-economic background from yourself. “This was a very diverse cultural experience and much different from what they would experience in this country,” she noted. “Costa Rica is still a developing country where poverty is much worse than what we have here. It means the infants and toddlers develop much differently — cognitively, in language development, movement and in social interaction — from what we see in this country." Read on to learn more about their trip. 


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Child Find Self-Assessment

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), with the collaboration and support of the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) and IDEA Data Center (for Sections II and III), developed this voluntary self-assessment tool to assist states in meeting regulations and implementing best practices related to child find. It will assist states in understanding and documenting their work around child find regulations and in identifying best practices to improve the efficiency of their child find efforts.  

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Spanish Language Resources Available to Help Support Health Development of Young Children

A new source of online information for Spanish-speaking parents of babies, toddlers and preschoolers is available on the First Things First website. Early childhood providers and educators can now share Spanish-language resources with Spanish-speaking parents of babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The First Things First digital Parent Kit – or Guía para Padres de Familia – and Ages and Stages guides for children ages two months to 5 years old are now available in Spanish and early childhood service providers and educators are encouraged to share the resources with families they work with. The digital Parent Kit provides useful tips and dependable online information and resources to help parents do their best in supporting the healthy development of their baby, toddler or preschooler.

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Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (TQRIS) Publications
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant program (RTT-ELC) promoted the use of rating systems to document and improve the quality of early learning programs. These publications assess the progress made by RTT-ELC states in implementing Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (TQRIS). The publications are based on interviews with state administrators, administrative TQRIS data on early learning programs and ratings, and validation studies from a subset of RTT-ELC grantee states. The publications find that states made progress in promoting program participation in TQRIS but that most programs did not move from lower to high rating levels during the study period and higher TQRIS ratings were generally not related to better developmental outcomes for children.

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News from Act Early Network Partners

Meet Our Five New Act Early Ambassadors!

2020 Community Report on Autism

New ADDM Network Prevalance Numbers

New "How to Get Help for Your Child" CDC Tip Sheet

News from the Act Early Network

Oklahoma: "Let's Play": Incorporating Milestones into Play Activities for Families

New Jersey: "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Parent Champion Training

Connecticut: Act Early and CT LEND and the Department of Children and Families Collaboration

New Hampshire: WIC Implementation Project

Oregon: The Feeding Relationship as an Approach to Assuring Optimal Development


New AAP Guidelines

Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Early Childhood Connector

Would you like to share important Act Early updates or innovative practices from your state, program or organization?

Submit your updates for the next Act Early Network News (Fall 2019) by emailing Danielle Webber ([email protected]).