Act Early/LEND Partnerships in New Hampshire and Maine

December 10, 2013

NH LEND faculty and trainees in New Hampshire and Maine continue to be actively involved in Act Early initiatives in both states. The NH LEND program is a collaboration among the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, the Institute on Disability/UCED at the University of New Hampshire (IOD), and the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies/UCEDD at the University of Maine (CCIDS).

NH LEND faculty member Alan Kurtz of CCIDS coordinates Maine's Act Early Initiative, which includes collaborations with Maine pediatricians, early childhood providers, Maternal and Child Health, policy makers, and parent advocacy organizations. Together with the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council, Maine's Act Early Team has recently taken on a more expanded role related to identifying needed supports for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders across the age span. Kurtz and LEND trainees Deb Rainey (LEND 2013) Jennifer Cammack (LEND 2013) organized a statewide meeting of the ACT Early Team. The LEND trainees facilitated a process in which ACT Early team members and policy makers developed recommendations for goals to be incorporated in Maine's upcoming 5-Year ASD Plan.  

The Act Early Team in New Hampshire continues to meet monthly and work under the leadership of Director of Special Medical Services for CSHCN, Elizabeth Collins, RN-BC, MS, (LEND 2005). In September 2013 Collins and Kirsten Murphy (LEND 2010) successfully competed for HRSA ASD State Planning Grant. Partners in implementation include NH Family Voices, NH LEND faculty and trainees, and the Statewide Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Through an Act Early Systems Grant awarded in 2013 LEND Faculty, Rae Sonnenmeier (LEND 1997) and Jenn Pineo (LEND 2012) established a partnership with NH WIC, Watch Me Grow  (NH's statewide developmental screening system), and a local WIC Program in northern NH, an underserved region of the state. Collaborators set up an area within the local WIC office and attended clinics weekly from July through November 2013 to disseminate Act Early materials and support developmentally appropriate play among children. As a result of this collaboration more than 90 families received information about early childhood development, including copies of the Milestone Moments booklet, Act Early brochure, and Developmental Milestones card. Efforts are currently underway to expand the partnership to other WIC and Watch Me Grow sites across the state. The NH WIC Program will be disseminating copies of the Act Early Milestone Moments booklets and Act Early brochures in all WIC offices statewide.