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Initiative Background and Data Facts

National Child Count

This page was last updated on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:57 am


History and Value of the National Child Count

Each year in December since 1986, state projects serving children who are deaf-blind have reported on children identified in their state. The annual National Child Count of Children and Youth who are Deaf-Blind (birth–21) is the first and longest-running registry and knowledge base of children who are deaf-blind in the world. The count represents a collaborative effort between NCDB, its predecessors, and each state deaf-blind project in the country, as well as those projects funded in the Pacific Trust territories, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

The child count was initially requested by the U.S. Department of Education to examine the discrepancy between the state/multi-state child counts and OSEP’s annual December 1 counts (Baldwin, 1993). The child count is conducted each year to supplement OSEP’s Special Education Child Count, which counts children as deaf-blind only when deaf-blindness is their single disability. In contrast, the Deaf-Blind Child Count data includes children identified with only deaf-blindness as well as those with deaf-blindness and additional disabilities (Muller, 2006). This is an important distinction because nearly 90% of the children and youth on the Deaf-Blind Child Count have one or more additional disabilities. Consequently, the majority of children who are deaf-blind or have deaf-blind intervention needs are not identified as such on OSEP’s Special Education Child Count.

The count serves as a common vehicle to identify trends and needs within the population and to develop local, state, regional, and national technical assistance initiatives to address these needs.

Data Provides an Annual Snapshot of the Population

Each year State and Multi-State Deaf-Blind Projects update their annual census, identifying new children and youth, updating or confirming information on currently active children and youth and identifying those who have exited Special Education and/or are no longer eligible to receive State and Multi-state Deaf-Blind Project services.

Through this process there is a yearly turn over in children and youth who are included in the annual National Child Count. This turnover is significant. A total of 2,470 individuals either were added to the child count or deleted from the child count for 2015. 1,337 were added and 1,133 were dropped. This represents over 23% of the total number of children and youth served in the 54 states and territories through the Deaf-Blind Network.

  • These 1,337 newly identified children and youth were added to the DBCC in 2015 represented every state and territory but one.
  • Approximately half were five years of age or younger (48.2%). Specifically, 69 were under one year of age; 145 were one year olds; 147 were two year olds; 115 were three year olds; 93 were four year olds and 73 were five year olds.
  • Over one quarter (27.1%) of these newly identified children and youth were elementary school age, from 6-11 years old, and another 17.7% were middle or high school age, 12-17 year of age. About 6% were 18 years of age or older.
  • They were generally representative of the broader population on the deaf-blind child count in terms of race/ethnicity, etiology, documented hearing and vision loss and additional disabilities. 

Over time the addition of new children and youth can potentially change the makeup of the overall population. Monitoring for these potential changes can and should drive national and state efforts to better meet the needs of the population.

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