Two weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renewed the appointment of ICI’s Jennifer Hall-Lande as the Minnesota Act Early Ambassador, extending it through October 2018 to spread the CDC’s “Learn the Signs, Act Early” message throughout the state. CDC trained her to develop and expand on ICI’s Act Early work of promoting early identification, screening, and intervention for autism and related neurodevelopmental disabilities in culturally- and linguistically-diverse communities across Minnesota. That work expanded this fall when the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), through a subcontract from CDC, awarded her $137,000 for a new nine-month project, “Learn the Signs, Act Early” Formative Research Evaluation of Developmental Books. “This project helps the Minnesota Act Early team to evaluate the effectiveness of our materials in promoting parent-led developmental monitoring, and it’s also a great opportunity for building a strong professional partnership with the AUCD team and UCEDDs in New York and Indiana,” she says. UCEDDs (University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) are a federally-designated network of programs similar to ICI that are housed in major universities and teaching hospitals across the country to promote a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities.
“This grant adds to ICI’s growing portfolio of ‘Learn the Signs, Act Early’ projects, including our Outreach Work and State Systems Grant: Minnesota Act Early,” says Hall-Lande. Also, in September, ICI’s Minnesota Act Early team partnered with Minnesota Help Me Grow to train another group of cultural delegates to conduct Learn the Signs outreach in their communities. The newly-trained delegates join the ranks of an existing “Minnesota Learn the Signs, Act Early” statewide network of approximately 100 trained delegates who use the Act Early materials and resources to help parents monitor child development. In this way, delegates connect with families in their communities to support early identification.