Identifying Young Children for Early Intervention in California
Only about 10 percent of eligible infants and toddlers with developmental delays nationwide receive early intervention services, which are widely agreed to reduce delays and lessen the adverse effects of risk factors and disabilities on learning and development. California serves fewer children than the national average. Challenges arise from spotty screening; tenuous linkages to referral and evaluation; and the intricacies of crossing multiple agencies—sometimes without knowledge of English—for families. In Massachusetts, a unified early childhood data system and robust interagency linkages resulted in a far greater percentage of their infant and toddler population served. Taking steps towards a unified early childhood data system alongside mandates for interagency streamlining and cooperation would likely increase the number of children and families served in California.