Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Public Awareness and Developmental Monitoring

Topic Editor: Evelyn Shaw

Public Awareness

Public awareness is a term describing efforts to inform the public about the availability of early intervention or preschool special education services for young children with or at risk for developmental disabilities. The goals of public awareness efforts are to locate, identify, and evaluate young children with or at risk of developmental disabilities so that they can be linked with appropriate services.

Elements of an Effective Public Awareness Program

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

Part C Requirements

As a component of a comprehensive Child Find System, to identify, locate, and evaluate infants and toddlers with disabilities as early as possible, the state Part C program is required to develop a public awareness program. The purpose is to ensure there are ongoing efforts to keep the public informed about early intervention. Key audiences for the information are primary referral sources, which include families, hospitals, physicians, and child care programs. Information to be 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.

Part B Requirements

The state Part B program uses the term Child Find to refer to the process of identifying, locating, and evaluating children in need of special education and related services. While Part B does not outline specific requirements for public awareness, public awareness efforts are important to ensure that all children with disabilities residing in the State who are in need of special education and related services (e.g., children with disabilities who are homeless or are wards of the State, children with disabilities attending private schools, and highly mobile children which includes migrant children) are identified, located, and evaluated. Therefore, states may include public awareness in their child find policies and procedures.

Developmental Monitoring and Surveillance

Developmental monitoring or surveillance involves observing a young child over time and tracking his or her achievement of typical developmental milestones. Developmental monitoring is less formal than developmental screening. It can be a way for primary referral sources, including parents and physicians, to make decisions about whether a referral for more formal developmental screening is necessary.

National Resources

Public Awareness

Developmental Monitoring and Surveillance

State Resources

  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

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 H326P170001 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.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile     © 2012-2020 ECTA Center

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute