Identifying Children Early: Sharing Success Across the National Initiative
Posted on November 11, 20154 Comments 4 Likes Like this post
Mark Schalock - NCDB Data and Evaluation Coordinator
Analysis of the National Deaf-Blind Child Count has shown us that, over time, early identification and referral of children with combined hearing and vision loss continues to be a challenge for state deaf-blind projects and other systems of service and support. This is important because experiences that occur during the earliest years of life critically impact children’s abilities to learn, move, and interact with others. This is especially true for children with severe sensory and multiple disabilities, for whom bonding, communication, incidental learning, social interaction, motor development and mobility are particularly challenging.
National Child Count Session, Summit 2015
Over the five year span covering 2010-2014, the average number of children identified with combined vision and hearing loss under age three across all states and territories has been 598, which represents 6.2% of the total number. Even more significant, an average of only 72 infants under one year of age have been identified across all states and territories. This represents less than 1% of the total of children, birth through 21, identified in the National Deaf-Blind Child Count. During this same period, 47 states/territories had one or more years with no children birth-age one identified. Only 7 states identified children birth-age one each year. NCDB, through the Early Identification and Referral Initiative, has promoted the use of the online Self-Assessment Guide (SAG). This tool allows state deaf-blind projects to analyze state and national data, gather information about systems (Part C, Medical, EDHI, Community) in their state serving children birth through two years old and reflect on specific issues that impact identification and referral of infants and toddlers with combined vision and hearing loss.
A National Response to a National Issue
The SAG we have today has its roots in work started nearly 10 years ago in NCDB’s Early Identification Work Group. This work included substantial literature reviews and input from state projects, resulting in the publication of a summary report, Early Identification and Referral of Infants Who Are Deaf-Blind.
To further this work, NCDB, in 2009, conducted a focus group with state deaf-blind projects from around the country to identify key issues and effective strategies related to early identification and referral. What was learned from this focus group provided much of the information used in the development of the first draft of the SAG.
The draft SAG was piloted with 8 state DB projects who gave great feedback on format, process and content that we were able to use in refining the SAG. NCDB field tested this new version of the SAG with 9 states, also providing technical assistance (TA) to complete the guide and develop an action plan. Again, we learned much from this field test, further refining the SAG, including making it a fillable PDF with self-populating data tables.
This extensive literature review, combined with strategies from deaf-blind projects with consistently high referral counts, along with repeated piloting and field testing, has provided a set of effective practices for use with systems. These practices are housed in the Self Assessment Guide Toolbox, for use by the national deaf-blind technical assistance (TA) network.
Evidence of Effects
As of the fall of 2015, a
growing number of the 49 state/multi-state deaf-blind projects have utilized
the self-assessment guide, have targeted a system, and are beginning to implement one or more of the
four key evidence-based practices. Some of
the most compelling information is coming from the nine states who initially
participated in the pilot process. In 2011, the year before implementation,
this group of states had collectively identified 138 infants and toddlers birth
through two. This represented 22.7% of the children in that
age range identified that year. This past year, in 2014, their collective birth
through 2 years of age number has increased to 209, which represents 35.3% of
the total birth through 2 population.
The nine states who have used the SAG, created an action plan and
targeted a particular system, are currently responsible for more than a third of the
children identified in the current count.
As this work continues, more state deaf-blind projects are discovering that they can increase the impact of their limited resources by using data-based decision making to narrow their focus and identify the early intervention system with the highest potential and feasibility for impact. Through the implementation of recommended evidence-based practices related to building relationships, developing carefully targeted materials, being clear about the benefits of referral and consistently following up with referral sources, state deaf-blind projects are building their capacity to increase the numbers of infants and toddlers with combined vision and hearing loss who are receiving appropriate early intervention services.
Jennie Maschek on the value of targeting the message
Join, Learn, Share and Take Action
State projects are having success using the SAG and there are lessons to be learned from their experience. The national EI&R initiative is sponsoring a series of webinars featuring individual states sharing their efforts in improving identification and referral with targeted systems in their states. The webinars are at the following dates and times:
November 18, 2015 @ 11 PST
January 13, 2016 @ 12 PST
February 10, 2016 @ 12 PST
March 9, 2016 @ 12 PST
The state deaf-blind project presenters will share with you the progress they have made and how they have managed success- all with limited time and resources. What's the desired outcome? Increased sharing of ideas and resources so our child find numbers for children birth-two can continue to improve as a nation.
Mark your calendars! We look forward to you joining the conversation!