Changing the way Family/General Practice Physicians(F/GP) screen for Developmental Milestones and Utilize Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education Services

RTOI# 2008-02

January 3, 2008

Studies demonstrate that early identification and entry into appropriate intervention is critical for a child with a developmental disability to have the best possible outcome. Some developmental disabilities, including autism, can be diagnosed as early as 18 months of age. Yet, half of children with disabilities in the United States are not identified and enrolled in appropriate early intervention as early as they could be. Late entry into intervention may put a child with disabilities at risk for poor outcomes, making it less likely the child will reach his or her full potential.

Many families visit Family or General Practitioners for their children's health care needs, therefore, improving the awareness, knowledge, and practices regarding developmental screening and early intervention referral among this group of professionals is a critical component to efforts to increase early identification of developmental disabilities and entry into early intervention. Based on national panel survey conducted in 2007, close to 50% of F/GP reported that they didn't know the contact information for their local early intervention program as barrier for the timely referral of children to state Part C services. Almost 20% of F/GP reported difficulty in referral processes as a major obstacle. Families, health care professionals, and state Part C programs must work together to navigate the path from developmental screening to early intervention.

Study Focus
To develop, implement, and evaluate a pilot program that would reach out to Family and General Practitioners with actionable information about early developmental screening, developmental milestones, and early intervention and early childhood services, that

  • Includes and involves Family and General Practitioners
  • Informs F/GP, provides awareness, facilitates parent-provider dialogue, and explains early intervention and early childhood referral procedures such that appropriate referrals from F/GP are increased for infants and young children with or at risk of disabilities
  • Can serve as a model for broader implementation especially in rural areas.
  • Provides future physicians with the knowledge, skills and tools for incorporating developmental monitoring, screening, and early intervention referral into their practices

Specific topics to address:

  • Screening for early child development milestones
  • Dialogue with parents about early child development
  • Appropriate referral to early intervention and early childhood programs
  • Approaches to inform existing practices and changing practices, or
  • Training future physicians and other future practice participants

Evaluation Criteria
Applicants must:

  • Conduct a needs assessment of key entities such as local networks or associations of F/GP, PCP networks of health insurance programs, local and/state agencies who provide early intervention and early childhood special education services, and parents of children with disabilities
  • Describe a plan for collaboration and support of and for key entities
  • Develop program for effective outreach, inclusion and involvement of Family and General Practitioners or future physicians
  • Discuss goals, objectives, and activities over the two year project period. First year would include the development and pilot testing of methodology and materials. Second year would include an expanded implementation to examine the potential for replication and sustainability on a larger targeted audience and/or geographic area i.e. multiple counties, large metropolitan area, rural area or state
  • Describe a evaluation plan that includes specific outcomes and how they will be measured
  • Describe previous experience in health care provider outreach and education

Total Years of Project Length
Two (2) years.
Total Number of Projects to be Funded
CDC desires to fund a total of 3 awards - 2 awards for reaching currently practicing family/general practice physicians and 1 award for reaching future physicians (medical students or family medicine residents).
Anticipated Levels of Funding
Total funding (direct and indirect) availability by project year at $100,000 per year.