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Learn the Signs. Act Early

Date Submitted: 04/2022

Contact Information: Bonnie McBride Associate Professor/Oklahoma’s Act Early Ambassador

Phone: 405-371-9896

Address: 3901 NW 63rd St., Suite 100, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73116

Rating Category: Well-Supported by Research

Focus Area: Child Development

Focus Population: Teachers, Caregivers, Guardians, Parents

Goals and Outcomes: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 1 in 6 children under the age of 5 years in the USA is at risk for a developmental delay or disability. Developmental monitoring, to track children's achievement of developmental milestones and identify potential delays, is a crucial tool for insuring that all children can receive the supports and services they need to reach important milestones and mitigate possible developmental delays.

“Learn the Signs. Act Early.” (LTSAE), a developmental health promotion program developed by the CDC, provides materials and resources for parents and early childhood professionals to easily track a child’s development with the goal of ensuring that children are referred and receive early intervention in a timely manner. Children who receive early intervention have better outcomes and success in school. The goal of LTSAE is to bring attention to the fact that monitoring a child’s developmental health is as important as monitoring their physical health. Despite guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for universal developmental monitoring and screening in primary care settings only about a third of children 9 months to 35 months receive developmental screening from a health care provider, and only 37% receive developmental monitoring (Hirai et al., 2018). This low rate of developmental monitoring and screening in health care settings emphasizes the importance of engaging a broader set of professionals in early detection efforts. LTSAE program provides information and free materials targeted specifically for early childhood professionals (e.g., Head Start, Early Head Start, home visitation, and childcare) and parents to regularly monitor a child’s development. The importance of ensuring that children are meeting important milestones and are ready to enter school prepared to learn has never been more critical. The pandemic has heightened the need for resources to track development and connect families to needed supports to address the increased rate of socioeconomic, behavioral, and emotional stress being seen in young children and their families. So, by highlighting LTSAE program in the Clearinghouse for Early Childhood Success it has the potential to increase access and knowledge in the early childhood community of this important resource. An added advantage to the LTSAE program is that it provides information about early childhood development and how to promote development at each age.

Brief Summary: This submission targets parents of young children, early educators and other professionals working in systems that support early childhood. The CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program was developed to promote awareness of the importance of early identification of developmental delay or disability. This was in response to the fact that many children were not being identified until entering school resulting missed opportunity and negative long-term outcomes. The campaign has developed extensive resources and training materials that assist parents and professionals with tracking developmental milestones and determining when referral to needed services is warranted. Early educators are in a unique role to help identify children who may need services and supports.

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