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Act Early Initiative

The Act Early Initiative promotes collaboration among early childhood programs in states and territories so children with autism or other developmental disabilities can be identified early and get the services and support they and their families need.

Working with state, U.S. territory, and national partners, CDC aims to help improve early childhood systems by:

  • Enhancing collaborative efforts within each state and territory to improve screening and referral to early intervention services through Act Early regional summits.
  • Supporting Act Early Ambassadors to expand the program’s reach.
  • Supporting Act Early state teams with State Systems Grants to improve early identification of autism and other developmental disabilities.

CDC works with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), and state-level systems focused on advocacy, early intervention, public health, education, and health care to improve early identification of developmental delay.

Act Early Regional Summits

From 2008 through 2010, CDC, HRSA, and AUCD convened 11 regional summits to:

  • Initiate and build on relationships among key stakeholders.
  • Serve as a catalyst for the formation of Act Early teams.
  • Foster the development of individual state/territory plans that improve early identification and referral.

Most Act Early teams continue to address priorities in their plans, including dissemination of “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign materials.

As a result of summit participation:

  • Most Act Early teams have or are developing a plan and continue to meet.
  • Coordination of state/territory efforts has improved or increased.
  • States and territories have engaged in activities focused on awareness, education and training, and policy change.
  • Use of campaign materials has increased.

The majority of team leaders rated the summits as helpful or very helpful in:

  • Improving early identification.
  • Strengthening existing partnerships.
  • Establishing new partnerships.

Act Early Ambassadors

Act Early Ambassadors expand the reach of the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program and support their respective state’s work toward improving early identification.

Beginning in 2011, professionals with medical, child development, developmental disability, special education, and early intervention expertise were selected to:

The Act Early Ambassadors project is a collaborative effort of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and AUCD.

Become an Act Early Ambassador: Recruiting in the winter of 2018

Act Early State Systems Grants

To build on the momentum from the collaborative Act Early state team work, with support from CDC, in 2010 AMCHP began funding small grants to states. These grants are designed to strengthen state and community systems for early identification and coordination of services for children with developmental disabilities.

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