Act Early Network News, Summer 2021 Issue

August 4, 2021

Summer 2021 Issue

Act Early Network Quarterly Webinar: "Learn the Signs. Act Early." in Health Center Settings
August 18, 2021 | 3PM-4PM, Eastern 
This quarter's Act Early Network Webinar will highlight the work of pediatricians to integrate "Learn the Signs. Act Early." resources and tools into their surveillance and screening practices within Health Center settings. Health Centers are community-based health providers that receive funds from the Human Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)'s Health Center Program to provide primary caree services in underserved areas.

  • Moderator: Dr. Toni Whitaker (Act Early Ambassador to Tennessee, Professor of Pediatrics and Developmental Pediatrician, with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Center on Developmental Disabilities)
  • Panelists: Dr. Emily Sherer (Indiana), Dr. Julia Richerson (Kentucky), Dr. Joyce Javier (California)
  • Q & A

Register Today! 

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Anyone in Louisiana can Access Parish-Specific Customized LTSAE Checklists and Early Childhood Resources!

Louisiana's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." (LTSAE) Ambassador Laura Thornton recently partnered with an Act Early deputy ambassador and their respective agencies (Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health, Bureau of Family Health, and the Louisiana Department of Education) to develop Louisiana's Act Early Map website. On this website, anyone in Louisiana can download milestone checklists with contact information that is specific to their parish, as well as find contact information on Head Start, Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, Coordinated Enrollment, and more.

View Louisiana's Act Early Map website and learn more about LTSAE efforts in the state today!

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Dr. Karen Brown Appointed Dean of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) School of Education

The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) made known Thursday that it has appointed Virgin Islands' Act Early Ambassador Dr. Karen Brown to serve as Dean of the School of Education after an extensive external search for a permanent hire. Dr. Brown has more than 20 years of higher education experience and 14 years in higher education leadership, according to UVI, and she joined the institution in 2015 as an associate director of the Virgin Islands University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VIUCEDD) and served as interim dean for two academic years.

Some of Dr. Brown's aspirations for the UVI School of Education include building a cadre of expert faculty in their respective disciplines who have embraced the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion; achieving an ongoing robust enrollment of both teachers and other school professionals so that the School of Education will be developing educational leaders who are culturally responsive and academically prepared to lead locally, regionally and globally with an equity lens.

"I believe this can be accomplished through igniting innovation and creativity in the School of Education and requires a paradigm shift," said Dr. Brown. "As the Dean, I must write the vision and make it plain, communicating the shared vision clearly and fostering creativity and confidence. Persistence, resilience, and boldness for new ideas are prerequisites."

Continue reading the full article to learn more about Dr. Kareen Brown's new position.

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"Learn the Signs. Act Early." Outreach Critical in Minnesota During Pandemic

Before the pandemic, new parents talked to their pediatricians at well-child visits about developmental milestones. Or they might come across literature about spotting signs of autism, for example, at a community event. COVID-19 interrupted many of those in-person habits, yet the need to strengthen families and communities remains.

A partnership between Help Me Grow Minnesota (MN) and the Minnesota Act Early Project to promote awareness in diverse cultural communities about the need for early evaluation and intervention helped connect more than 2,400 MN families to resources last year, initially through in-person events. Jennifer Hall-Lande (MN LEND Fellow, 2009-10, and ICI's current MN LEND liaison) is the MN Ambassador for the Act Early project. She said the pandemic prompted project leaders to pivot from in-person events to new outreach methods, including social media and online webinars.

For example, the Help Me Grow/Act Early programs partnered with Ramsey County's Early Childhood Initiative and Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) to create an educational webinar series for parents and professionals from several diverse communities. It covered tips on getting children outside for play every day, dealing with challenging behaviors during times of stress, the importance of well-child visits, and other parenting topics. "It's more important than ever to have parents carrying the early intervention message in their own communities," said Hall-Lande.

Learn more about Jennifer Hall-Lande and the Minnesota Act Early Project.

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Newly Developed Model of Georgia State Partners Commonly Engaged in Early Identification

The Gerogia (GA) State Act Early COVID-19 Response Team worked to develop a detailed conceptual map of how their state early identification systems work together to ensure that children are effectively and accurately identified within their communities (forthcoming pending sign off by GA Act Early Team agencies). Furthermore, considering well known developmental screening and referral policies (e.g., CAPTA, Head Start), and conversations with other state Act Early team members or associates (IN, WI, WY) the GA team also developed the generalized conceptual map above aiming to describe state and community partnerships common to many, if not most, state cross-system collaborations.

The model of state partners commonly engaged in early identification of children with autism and developmental disabilities via parent engaged developmental monitoring, developmental screening, referral, assessment, and early intervention/early childhood special education.

Learn more about the Act Early COVID-19 Response Teams and reach out to Brian Barger to view the proposed model and ask any questions and/or offer comments and critiques.

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Development of an Observer-Based Rating of the CDC Developmental Milestones in New York

Developmental monitoring is widely recommended, however, overall rates of developmental surveillance remain low. The aim for this Observer-Based Rating project led by Dr. Romina Barros, one of New York's two Act Early Ambassadors, was to adapt the CDC's Developmental Milestones into an observational measure to help increase developmental monitoring. Observational measures have proven successful tools for assessing various domains of development. For example, Ruth Feldman's Coding Interactive Behavior (CIB) rating scheme captures the social-emotional development of infants based on 5-minute video clips of adult-infant interactions.

The Child Development Monitoring System (CDMS) was scored in fifty 10-15 minute videos of parent-child playtime with promising links to independently observed CIB scoring. Dr. Barros and an MA student from The New School for Social Research found that the CDC Milestones were easy to adapt into an observational tool for monitoring development using video footage. Training MA students to use the CDMS was also straightforward.

Planned future research will assess the reliability and validity of the CDMS. As guaranteed preschool for three-year-old children increasingly becomes a reality, an observational measure, like the CDMS, could help increase developmental surveillance, and be relied on to test the efficacy of school and therapeutic services.

Learn more about the Act Early Ambassador project and what is being done in your state.

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Child Welfare League of America 2022 National Conference: The Fierce Urgency of Now: Collective Action to Ensure Children and Families Flourish

The Child Welfare League (CWLA) 2022 National conference will create awareness, highlight successful strategies, research, practices, advocacy, and actions that individuals, families, organizations, and communities are using to improve supports and services; and identify what we can collectively be done to address today's critical child welfare issues. The conference will draw from the wisdom of the authors and editors of upcoming and recent CWLA publications, focusing on critical and emerging issues such as neglect, child poverty, equity, permanency, immigration, social determinants of health, prenatal drug/alcohol exposure, well-being of Latinx children and youth, a resilient workforce, and implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First). 

CWLA will be accepting a limited number of proposals to present the Action Lab sessions by Monday, August 16, 2021. Priority will be given to presentations by CWLA members and partner organizations. Submit a online proposal to CWLA now.

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Early Childhood Policy Matters Podcast

A new Early Childhood Policy Matters podcast series is now available from the The National Technical Assistance Center for Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five (PDG B-5). This podcast is geared towards early childhood professionals and strategic partners, hoping to use research to inform policy and better serve children, families, and their communities. This series features state leaders and national experts who discuss early childhood policy and efforts supporting the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five initiatives happening across the country.

Each episode focuses on topics including the development of strategic partnerships, establishing financing models for mixed delivery and coordinating eligibility and enrollment processes across agencies and across states. Tune in for an informative and engaging look at early childhood policy initiatives and learn from the nation's top early childhood professionals and leaders.

Learn more about the new early childhood policy podcast and watch all 5 episodes now!

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News from Act Early Network Partners

Act Early Network Quarterly Webinar: "Learn the Signs. Act Early." in Health Center Settings

News from the Act Early Network

Anyone in Louisiana can Access Parish-Specific Customized LTSAE Checklists and Early Childhood Resources!

Dr. Karen Brown Appointed Dean of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) School of Education

Learn the Signs. Act Early. Outreach Critical in Minnesota During Pandemic

Newly Developed Model of Georgia State Partners Commonly Engaged in Early Identification

Development of an Observer-Based Rating of the CDC Developmental Milestones in New York


Child Welfare League of America 2022 National Conference: The Fierce Urgency of Now: Collective Action to Ensure Children and Families Flourish

Early Childhood Policy Matters Podcast

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 2021) by emailing Jordan Kerr ([email protected]).