Last week, ACS’s Heather Lenz led a group of Arizona’s early intervention stakeholders toward system coordination. Right now parents and families in Arizona face many barriers when it comes to identifying and addressing developmental delays in children from birth to age two. Things that should be simple – like finding information on screenings for hearing, vision, and developmental delays, or actually receiving these services – can be difficult for parents. Through a federal Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grant, First Things First seeks to coordinate these services and others to improve both the rate at which children are screened for developmental delays and the process by which those children and their families are connected to the services and supports that address these concerns.
It’s a complicated undertaking involving many different stakeholders in a collective impact approach, but ACS is there on the ground, leading quarterly stakeholder group meetings in a drive to coordinate improvements statewide. Currently, the group is focusing on standardizing a set of screening tools, creating a standard referral form for physicians and providers, and mapping the system of screening and treatment services currently available to children. Heather and the ACS team have been working with First Things First on the ECCS project for more than a year, helping to establish priorities, develop a three-year workplan, and move forward on some of the most critical pieces of systems coordination.
When all is said and done, many Arizona parents will be more aware of and have more access to vital early screenings for their infants and toddlers, potentially addressing developmental delays earlier and more successfully.