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Partner Spotlight

Dianne Burdette
Child Care Health Consultant Coordinator for The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey

Dianne Burdette Child Care Health Consultant Coordinator for The Children’s Home Society of New JerseyDianne Burdette understands the importance of educating child care providers about early intervention when a developmental delay is suspected. As a child care health consultant coordinator for The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, Ocean County’s child care resource and referral agency, she receives requests from child care providers and early care and childhood education professionals for technical assistance and recommendations on strategies to deal with children with autism and other developmental delays.

In her 23-year career as a pediatric nurse, Dianne has been a service provider and a service coordinator of early intervention services. “My experience in early intervention has helped me to connect parents and caregivers who have children with developmental delays to the appropriate services they need. I have often worked with children who have autism,” says Dianne.

Dianne, who has a sister with autism, is personally dedicated to educating child care providers about identifying developmental concerns and referring families to early intervention. In 2004, she attended the Healthy Childcare America Campaign’s annual meeting in Virginia where she learned about the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign through informational cards that were distributed.

Identifying with the campaign’s message, Dianne distributed campaign materials in her local community. Believing in dialogue between child care providers and parents, Dianne now reaches out to child care providers and nurses she works with on a regular basis.

“I give them the informational cards and refer them to the campaign website to learn what they should be looking for as a child develops,” Dianne says. “They are educating themselves on important milestones and are able to recognize potential signs of developmental delay.”

Part of Dianne’s role as a child care health consultant is to educate child care providers about general child development; how to work with children who have developmental delays, behavioral difficulties, and/or language delays; and how to create safe and healthy environments for children. She also collaborates with her agency’s special needs coordinator, who recruits and trains registered family child care providers to provide care in their homes for children with special needs and to become part of Ocean County’s Special Needs Network.

If a child care provider suspects a delay, delivering that message to the parents can be a challenge. While Dianne encourages open and honest discussion between parents and their child care provider, she says sometimes the information can be overwhelming.

“No parent wants to hear that his or her child may have a developmental delay,” says Dianne. “The campaign materials are helpful in giving both parents and child care providers specific milestones to look for and the resources to consult, which I’ve found helps parents digest the information a little easier and gives them a feeling of empowerment.”

Dianne is ready to be even more involved as the campaign continues to reach out to child care providers. She believes that having information directly addressing the child care provider audience “is crucial, since child care providers spend a lot of time with the children and can help detect the signs of developmental delay.”

Dianne adds, “I tell parents and caregivers to learn as much as they can—to be aware of their child’s development. Early intervention is important, because these children do matter; they do count.”

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