September 19, 2003

In this Issue:

  1. The Autism Summit Conference: Developing a National Agenda
      Source: www.nimh.nih.gov/autismiacc/events.cfm - September 17, 2003
  2. Grants to Improve Early Childhood Educator Teaching Skills
      Source: www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases - September 15, 2003
  3. Web Site Resource on Cultural Competence
      Source: IDEAnews - September 2003
  4. Authors Review Variation in Eligibility Criteria for Children with Special Health Care Needs
      Source: MCH Alert - September 12, 2003

1. The Autism Summit Conference: Developing a National Agenda

Source: www.nimh.nih.gov/autismiacc/events.cfm - September 17, 2003

In a joint effort, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education will sponsor a conference entitled "Autism Summit Conference: Developing a National Agenda" on November 19th and 20th, 2003, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. In response to growing public health concerns regarding rising rates of autism, these government agencies will sponsor this conference to engage in a public dialogue concerning issues such as implementation of optimal services, early screening and diagnosis, and biomedical research. The conference will include general keynote sessions from public officials, as well as targeted sessions to cover each of these specific content area.

More information regarding this conference, including registration, may be found at the website for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-funding/scientific-meetings/recurring-meetings/iacc/events/index.shtml

2. Grants to Improve Early Childhood Educator Teaching Skills

Source: www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases - September 15, 2003

On September 15 U.S. Secretary of Education, Rod Paige announced seven grants to improve the knowledge and skills of early childhood teachers in communities with high concentrations of poverty . The seven grant recipients are the Arizona State University, in partnership with the Arizona State Board for School Readiness; the Mid-America Regional Council in Missouri; the University of Houston, in partnership with the Harris County Department of Education; the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the Connecticut State Department of Education; Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families in Washington, D.C.; the Tehama (California) County Department of Education.

Projects funded under the Early Childhood Professional Development Program are built upon the latest scientific research on early childhood teaching, child development and literacy and language learning. Through the program, teachers who work in preschools located in high-need communities and who serve children from low-income families will participate in professional development activities to improve children's language and cognitive skills and to prevent reading and behavior problems as children enter and move through school.

For more information and to view a list of grantees, contacts and grant amounts go to: http://www2.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2003/09/09172003a.html. Project descriptions are available at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/eceducator/awards.html

3. Web Site Resource on Cultural Competence

Source: IDEAnews - September 2003

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recently launched a new section on their Web site entitled Culturally Competent Practice. It includes a comprehensive menu of resources, research, links, frequently asked questions, reports, and more addressing educational practices for students, families, and others from diverse cultural backgrounds. Go to http://www.nasponline.org/resources/culturalcompetence/index.aspx

4. Authors Review Variation in Eligibility Criteria for Children with Special Health Care Needs

Source: MCH Alert - September 12, 2003

"This review has reinforced the notion that definitions can have a profound effect on outcome," state the authors of an article published in the September-October 2003 issue of Public Health Reports. The authors of this article note that multiple agencies at the federal and state level provide for children with special health care needs (CSHCN), with variation in eligibility criteria. This article explores the state-level variations and provides an analysis of current practices in defining CSHCN.

Following a review of theoretical approaches to defining the population of children with chronic illness and disability, the authors delineated the current operating definitions of the three federal agencies primarily responsible for ensuring the provision of health and social services or funds to children with chronic illness and disability: the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). To understand the complexities of the definitions used, the authors collated and analyzed available state-level data about child eligibility and about the number of children classified and funded under the three programs.

The authors found that:
* Both SSA and MCHB are mandated to provide services for children with special health care needs.
* SSA uses a rigid, federally determined definition, whereas MCHB uses a federally sanctioned state-by-state discretionary approach.
* There has been a fairly uniform capture of a population of children who are receiving SSI; by comparison, the size and composition of the population of children served by state MCHB programs vary significantly.
* SSI spending per child has a relatively tight distribution; on the other hand, there is significant variation in Title V per-child spending between states, depending on the number of children a state chooses to enroll in Title V.
* CMS has not issued any recommendations about the classification of CSHCN, and few state Medicaid programs categorize CSHCN. Therefore, it was not possible to derive a comprehensive picture of Medicaid funding for CSHCN.

"It may be a good time for a new iteration of a standard approach to the classification of children with special health care needs," conclude the authors. A discussion of the implications of the current situation and a series of considerations for next steps are presented.

Beers NS, Kemeny A, Sherritt L, et al. 2003. Variations in state-level definitions: Children with special health care needs. Public Health Reports 118(5):434-447.

[Originally published in MCHAlert 2003 National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health and Georgetown University. Reprinted with permission.]