An Investigation of State-Level Child Find and Public Awareness Campaigns to Promote Early Intervention to the Medical Community

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act requires States, through their Child Find Program, to locate, evaluate, and provide services to all children with delays. The purpose of this research was to investigate what the States are doing to promote Child Find to the medical community, how they evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts, and what, if any barriers prohibit these efforts. Three data collection methods were used: 1) an analysis of each State's policy as it relates to Child Find and the medical community, 2) an analysis of public awareness plans as they relate to Child Find and the medical community, and 3) a survey sent to each of the Part C lead agency coordinators in each State and US territory investigating Child Find efforts to the medical community. The results of this research reveal that most States have vague or ambiguous objectives in their policies related to Child Find and public awareness to the medical community. However, States' public awareness plans contain more detail about these objectives. The majority of States are working in collaboration with the medical community, as 85% had a member of the medical community serving on the State Interagency Coordinating Council. Ninety-one percent of the respondents reported their State collects data on how many referrals to early intervention they receive each year, and 100% of the people who responded reported collecting data on where these referrals come from. Only 56% collect referral data from the NICUs; however 94% collect data on referrals from other medical related institutions. Seventy percent have a public awareness plan and 53% routinely collaborate with the Local Education Agencies (LEA) on the effectiveness of this plan. In spite of plans, policies, and collaborative efforts, the States are still experiencing barriers in their efforts to reach out to the medical community. Lack of staff, lack of time, and difficult accessing the medical community were the three most frequently cited barriers. Limitations of this research, as well as suggestions for future research and practice are presented.