CDC’s Act Early Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated stressors can affect children’s development and well-being. Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), funded 43* State and Territorial Act Early COVID-19 Response Teams with a two-year grant opportunity to support families and systems affected by COVID-19.

*41 teams were funded during Year Two

Act Early COVID-19 Response Teams


During Year One of the project, teams worked to bolster and evaluate activities to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities among young children (birth to age five) during the COVID-19 pandemic, and advance the promotion and distribution of relevant, existing tools, materials, and programs to improve resiliency among families with young children. To inform this work, Response Teams and their partners from early childhood programs (N = 392) completed a nationwide rapid needs assessment to describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the early identification of children with developmental delays and disabilities.


During Year Two of the project, 41 teams worked to

  1. Maintain an Ambassador-led state/territory team that includes key early childhood partners.
  2. Develop, implement, and evaluate a plan to improve early identification of developmental delay/disability that addresses all 4 “steps” of early identification (developmental monitoring using “Learn the Signs. Act Early.”, developmental screening, referral, and receipt of services) AND supports families in transitioning from step to step to reduce loss to follow up, and
  3. Promote resiliency skills and behaviors among children, families, providers, and/or early childhood systems.

You can contact your state’s or territory’s Act Early Ambassador to learn how you can collaborate with the Act Early COVID-19 Response Teams to support children and their families during the pandemic.

Promising Practices

These are some of the many identified models and ideas that have been implemented by Act Early Response teams who found creative solutions for integrating the four steps of early identification, using Learn the Signs. Act Early., in their state and/or territory during COVID-19.

Summary of Needs Assessment Findings

Thumbnail for Assessing Needs Related to Early Identification During COVID-19 A National Needs Assessment  PDF

Summary of Needs Assessment Findings