Connecticut Children’s Medical Center will pilot a program to embed Birth to Three early intervention staff in pediatricians’ offices, an arrangement aimed at improving access to services for children of color.
Although early detection and intervention are critical for children at risk of developmental disorders, children of color are more likely to miss the opportunity for early intervention. On average, minority children are diagnosed with autism two years later than white children, and once diagnosed, they are far less likely to receive the services of developmental pediatricians or psychologists.
As part of the $59,946 grant, Connecticut Children’s will embed staff from Birth to Three “the state program that serves young children with developmental and health needs” in two pediatric offices. There, early intervention staff will provide assistance to the pediatric staff and will be available to meet face-to-face with families.
Connecticut Children’s will evaluate whether this arrangement increases rates of screening, referral to early intervention, and use of Birth to Three services. It will also examine barriers to integrating early intervention services in pediatric offices and develop financial models that could support this type of program.
“Children who receive early intervention services in the statewide Birth to Three system often reach better developmental outcomes, but these services are not accessed equally. Children from certain communities, such as racial/ethnic minority or low-income communities, are identified as needing these services later, referred for these services less frequently, and receive the services less often,” said Dr. Thyde Dumont-Mathieu, the project director, and a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. “It is imperative to develop and test new ways of identifying children who need early intervention and improving their access to these critical services.”
The project builds on a previous Connecticut Health Foundation grant to the hospital to examine factors that increased screenings and improved families’ use of Birth to Three services. That research identified a need for more systematic coordination between pediatric offices and the Birth to Three program.
“This project will allow Connecticut Children’s to focus on addressing the significant disparities in access to early intervention services, and to test a model that could be replicated or built upon if it is successful,” said Tiffany Donelson, vice president of program at the Connecticut Health Foundation. “We are hopeful that this approach can lead to broader change by identifying models that improve care.”