Act Early Network

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Act Early Network, a collaborative initiative that supports state efforts to improve early identification of autism and other developmental disabilities, including the:

Act Early Response to COVID-19, providing support for early childhood state systems through the Act Early Network to support recovery and strengthen resilience skills, behaviors, and resources of children, families, and communities during COVID-19 response, mitigation, and recovery efforts. 

Act Early Forum, a national community of over one thousand professionals with medical, child development, developmental disability, special education, and early intervention expertise.

Act Early Ambassadors Program, expand the reach of the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program and support their respective state’s work toward improving early identification of developmental delays and disabilities, including autism.

Act Early State Systems Grants, 2011-2019, These grants were designed to strengthen state and community systems for early identification and coordination of services for children with developmental disabilities. To learn more about the specific strategies and implementation activities, click to view the interactive resource, “Learn the Signs. Act Early. AMCHP’s State Systems Grant: Eight Years in Review.”

AUCD collaborates with The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs to implement "Act Early" efforts supported by the Learn the Signs. Act Early. program.

For more information, please contact Danielle Webber.

Stay connected: Subscribe to the Act Early Network listserv.



Upcoming Events

AIR-P Presents: Using Autism Research to Inform Policy: Successes, Lessons, and Challenges

AIR-P Presents: Using Autism Research to Inform Policy: Successes, Lessons, and Challenges  Copy to Calendar

Monday, March 15, 2021
4:00 p.m.
Location: Zoom Webinar

This webinar presents results and lessons learned from nearly a decade of autism research aimed at informing policy to improve the lives of youth and adults on the autism spectrum. We will discuss how the work of the Life Course Outcomes Research Program and the Policy and Analytics Center at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute have informed policy at the local, state, national and international levels. We will also outline the process and considerations necessary for creating effective information dissemination environments and partnerships, provide examples of useful tools for designing for dissemination, and guide a discussion of continued challenges.

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Materials from Past Events

"Learn the Signs. Act Early." as a Tool to Strengthen Early Childhood Systems  Copy to Calendar

Thursday, February 25, 2021
Location: Zoom

This quarter's Act Early Network Webinar will feature the National Institute for Children's Health Quality (NICHQ) alongside four states representing the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (ECCS CoIIN). ECCS CoIIN is a multiyear initiative to improve early childhood systems in twelve states to increase age-appropriate developmental skills among 3-year-old children and reduce developmental disparities.

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AIR-P Presents: COVID-19 Vaccine, I/DD Populations, and the Needle Anxiety Program at UCLA

AIR-P Presents: COVID-19 Vaccine, I/DD Populations, and the Needle Anxiety Program at UCLA  Copy to Calendar

Tuesday, February 16, 2021
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET
Location: Zoom Webinar

Immunizations are crucial to protect all people from vaccine-preventable illnesses. Some studies suggest that autistic individuals have lower rates of immunizations, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Multiple organizations have called for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Vaccine hesitancy and needle phobia are two likely contributors towards lower vaccination rates. One of the initial intervention projects from the AIR-P focuses on reducing needle anxiety and improving immunization rates among autistic individuals. This intervention was developed as a pilot to address needle anxiety in conjunction with Pfizer and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for use in an Improving Pediatric Immunization Care collaborative but has not been widely implemented. The AIR-P network provides an opportunity to implement this needle anxiety intervention in multiple sites. Measures of success for this intervention would include vaccination rates among autistic individuals and satisfaction with the vaccine administration process.

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Services and Supports for Adults with FASD

Services and Supports for Adults with FASD  Copy to Calendar

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET
Location: Webinar

When children with disabilities become adults, there is a significant reduction in services and supports available. For individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), however, that loss of services is even more dramatic. A three-person panel will discuss the current state of services and supports, identifying options and describing how certain states have achieved successes in developing new services. This webinar is an essential event for the developmental disabilities community, including clinicians, service providers, individuals with FASD, families, local and state agencies, and advocates.

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Act Early Network News, Winter 2021 Issue



Act Early/COVID-19 Response Teams Complete Rapid Needs Assessment

In Fall 2020, 43 State and Territorial Response Teams and their identified key informants who lead early childhood programs, organizations, or systems (i.e. Part C, WIC, Home Visiting) conducted a rapid needs assessment as part of the Act Early Response to COVID-19 project. This needs assessment aimed to 1) measure engagement in each of the four steps of early identification and 2) understand the emerging strengths, needs, barriers, and opportunities related to the four steps of early identification of developmental delays and disabilities among children birth to age five during the COVID-19 pandemic, across early childhood systems and programs.



Supporting Families and Systems that Serve Young Children through the Act Early Response to COVID-19

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) has expanded its National Center on Disability in Public Health efforts with an investment of over $4M in the Act Early Network through an Act Early Network-wide Response to COVID-19 made possible by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 43 State and Territorial Act Early COVID-19 Response Teams were awarded a one-year (September 2020-August 2021) grant opportunity for Support for Early Childhood State Systems Through the Act Early Network.





Public Health Surveillance of Prenatal Opioid Exposure in Mothers and Infants

The US opioid crisis is the public health emergency of our time and requires urgent public health action to monitor and protect the most vulnerable Americans. We have witnessed a startling death toll in 2017 with 70 237 drug overdose deaths in the United States, of which two-thirds involved opioids. The devastating consequences of this epidemic for mothers and infants have received less attention. Increases in opioid use and misuse in pregnancy have paralleled the increases in the general population; at delivery hospitalization, there were 4 times as many women with an opioid use disorder in 2014 compared with 1999. One of the most immediate and visible impacts of the opioid crisis on infants is the drug withdrawal in the newborn period, termed neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). On the basis of 2014 data, 1 newborn was diagnosed with NAS every 15 minutes in the United States, totaling about 32 000 infants annually with associated hospital costs estimated at $563 million.

pdf File PrenatalOpioidExposure.pdf [download]


New Dynamic Website Focuses on Total Child Health for Iowa's Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs, their Families, and Providers

The Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program (RAP) collaborated with Iowa's Systems Integration Grant to create a new robust website, This dynamic website focuses on total child health for Iowa's children and youth with a special health care need, their families, and the providers who care for them.



Now Accepting Applications for CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." 2016-2018 Ambassador Program

AUCD, the CDC, and HRSA are excited to announce the RFA for the 2016-2018 cohort for the Act Early Ambassadors: State, Territorial, and Tribal Liaisons to CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Program. Please see the Act Early Ambassador Program overview below and the request for applications (see attached .pdf document) for detailed information. Please feel free to share the RFA with your colleagues who may be interested and qualified.


Act Early Network News

Read the latest issue of the AEN News to for "Learn the Signs. Act Early." success stories, lessons learned, updates, announcements and more!

Fall 2020

Subscribe to the Act Early Network listserv.


Act Early Forum
Webinar Series

Learn the Signs Act Early

Winter 2021 Webinar

"Learn the Signs. Act Early." as a Tool to Strengthen Early Childhood Systems

Archive now available!