Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Early Identification:
Public Awareness and Primary Referral Sources

Topic Editor: Evelyn Shaw

Under Part C (34CFR§§ 303.301), the public awareness program is part of the comprehensive child find system. Public awareness is an ongoing effort that keeps the families, primary referral sources and the general public informed about the early intervention program. Information disseminated includes the scope and purpose of the early intervention system, how to make a referral, how to gain access to a comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation and assessment and early intervention services, and the central directory. All primary referral sources (especially hospitals and physicians) have this information in order to provide parents of infants and toddlers, especially parents with premature infants or infants with other physical risk factors associated with learning or developmental complications, with the knowledge of the availability of early intervention services. Additionally, public awareness includes dissemination of specific information for parents of toddlers with disabilities to inform them of the availability of services under Section 619, preschool services, not fewer than 90 days prior to a toddler's third birthday.

Under Part B (34CFR§§ 300.125) Child Find, states are required to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities in the state, birth to 21, including highly mobile children with disabilities (migrant or homeless children). When the Part C lead agency is different from the Part B lead agency, states must describe the "nature and participation" of the Part C lead agency in child find activities for children birth through age two.

To be effective, the public awareness program should provide continuous, ongoing activities throughout the state, involve the major organizations that have a direct interest in young children including public and private agencies at the state, regional and local levels, parent groups, advocates, and other organizations. Public awareness should be broad enough to reach the general public including persons with disabilities and include a variety of methods. Examples of methods to inform the general public can include posters, pamphlets, displays, toll free-numbers, Web sites, videos, TV, radio, newspaper releases, advertisements etc.

WWW TRACE: Tracking, Referral and Assessment Center for Excellence was funded by the Office of Special Education Programs to identify and promote the use of evidence-based practices and models for improving WWW child find, WWW referral, WWW early identification, and WWW eligibility determination for infants, toddlers, and young children with developmental delays or disabilities. Examples of publications include topics such as improving referrals from physicians, providing feedback to primary referral sources, academic detailing, a universal referral form, and an eligibility determination algorithm for Part C.

Reaching Families and Caregivers

See also: state examples below.

Strategies for Reaching Physicians and the Medical Community

See also: state examples below.

State Examples

  • Connecticut Birth to Three has a Web page called WWW: Especially for Families with materials on typical development, services and supports.
  • Maryland's Infants and Toddlers Program has WWW: Growth and Developmental Milestones guides for parents of children birth to three available in multiple languages and PDF The Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program Physicians Guide.
  • WWW: Maryland's Preschool Special Education Services page contains information about preschool services (3-5) and hot links to the child find coordinators in each school system.
  • Minnesota's WWW: ParentsKnow Web site has information, videos, activities and other resources for parents on child health and development.
  • New Mexico's Family Infant and Toddler Program (FIT) has a WWW "Making a Referral" section that includes an on-line presentation and referral forms, one specifically for physicians, and available in English and Spanish. FIT's WWW For Families section includes a presentation on what to expect in the early intervention program and developmental milestones using CDC's Learn the Signs, Act Early materials.
  • Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners maintains a child find website with information about child find, birth through five and links to resources on eligibility and Act Early WI's WWW Learn the Signs (English and Spanish).
Links on this site are verified monthly. This page content was last updated on 10/13/2015 SG

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

  • FPG Child Development Institute
  • OSEP's TA&D Network:IDEAs that Work