Public Awareness and Developmental Monitoring
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, for example:
- public and private agencies at the state, regional, and local levels;
- parent groups;
- medical staff; and
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, websites, videos, TV, radio, newspaper releases, and advertisements.
Part C Requirements
The state Part C program is required to develop a comprehensive child find system (34 CFR §303.115) to identify, locate, and evaluate infants and toddlers with disabilities as early as possible, the state lead agency is required to develop a public awareness program (34 CFR §303.301). 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 (34 CFR §303.303), 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 (34 CFR §303.117).
Part B, Section 619 Requirements
The state Part B, Section 619 program uses the term Child Find (34 CFR §303.111) 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, States can include public awareness in their child find policies and procedures.
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 (for example, children with disabilities who are homeless or are wards of the state, children with disabilities attending private schools, or migrant children) are identified, located, and evaluated.
Flyer Template: Referring a Preschool Child with a Suspected Disability or Delay for Evaluation for Special Education
This document contains information on how to refer a child aged three through five with a disability to the local public school, and is intended for states and communities to add additional detail and contact information.Download PDF Download MS-Word Template
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. While 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.
Infographic: Young Children with Special Needs (2019)
This infographic from the Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes the IDEA Part C and Part B, Section 619 programs and the ways in which early care and education staff can facilitate referral to the appropriate program and provide supports for infants, toddlers, young children and their families.
Overview of Early Intervention
This overview from the Center for Parent Information and Resources provides general information for families on early intervention and is available in English and Spanish.
Developmental Monitoring and Surveillance
Bright Futures Guidelines and Pocket Guide
This resource provides health care professionals with updated background and recommendations for pediatric health promotion, health supervision and anticipatory guidance for 31 age-based visits. It presents a focus on the social determinants of health and on lifelong physical and mental health. The Bright Futures/AAP Periodicity Schedule presents (in chart form) the screenings, assessments, physical examinations, procedures and timing of anticipatory guidance recommended for each age-based visit in the Bright Futures Guidelines, 4th Edition.
See also: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
Help Me Grow National Center
This center uses a systems model to increase identification of vulnerable children, help families promote development, and provide links to community resources. Help Me Grow provides a map of the Help Me Grow affiliates in each state.
Learn the Signs, Act Early
This program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) program encourages parents and providers to learn the signs of typical development, monitor every child's early development, and take action where there is a concern. The program offers free checklists and tools to make developmental monitoring practical and easy. Materials include:
- Milestone Tracker mobile app;
- children's books;
- videos for families, healthcare providers, and early educators;
- free 1-hour online training for early educators, Watch Me! Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Concerns; and
- Evidence-Informed Milestones for Developmental Surveillance Tools.
There are over 50 state and territory Act Early Ambassadors who can help connect Part C staff with resources and collaborate with Part C on enhancing state Child Find systems.
ZERO TO THREE
ZERO TO THREE provides materials on Healthy Minds: Nurturing Your Child's Development.