Monthly Archives: July 2009

Some Pediatricians Begin Developmental Screenings

WRAL Video on ABCD Program

WRAL Video on ABCD Program

Last night, North Carolina’s WRAL News aired a piece about screening young children for developmental delays. The ABCD program is an intervention in primary care physician offices, with the goal that all children receive appropriate developmental screenings and referrals in the context of the medical home. About 70% of children with disabilities are not identified before they enter school. Although primary care physicians have regular contact with the majority of young children, they face many barriers to offering regular developmental screening and referral services.

The ABCD program offers training and technical assistance to physicians and their office staff so that children can receive screenings and referrals to appropriate developmental services. The North Carolina Partnerships for Children, Inc., the organization that oversees Smart Start, has been piloting this program in select regions of the state for the past two years with funding from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Smart Start.

Unfotunately, as WRAL concluded, expansion requires more funding:

“A big concern now is that state funding is in limbo right now for many state programs, and if there are cuts to the Smart Start program, the Partnership for Children may not be able to reach as many pediatricians and children with this screening tool,” said WRAL Health Team Physician Dr. Allen Mask..

Watch the WRAL Video.
Read about ABCD.
Visit the ABCD website.

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Filed under Developmental Delay, Early Childhood, Health, Uncategorized

Will NC Fail Children?

Not too long ago, North Carolina was held up as a model for its early childhood system. Today, we seem poised to fall of the pedestal. The second report in a week cites North Carolina as being behind the mainstream in serving children. While leaders in other states fight to stay true to their principles to best serve children, where is NC?femaledoctorwithmomwhitebackground

Today, the New York Times (in a front-page article) lumps us with Louisiana as one that backed down from previously authorized expansions to insuring more children. Like the cuts to early childhood learning initiatives, the state blamed it on revenue.

But according to the NYT:

“Despite budgets ravaged by the recession, at least 13 states have invested millions of dollars this year to cover 250,000 more children with subsidized government health insurance.”

This news comes just as a new report by PreK Now lists NC as one of only five states proposing to cut early childhood learning funding in FY10.

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Filed under budget, Early Childhood, Health, Legislative and Governmental, Uncategorized

NC is Keeping Bad Company

North Carolina can no longer ride the coattails of Smart Start’s success. We’ve fallen hard and fast. Long held up as the model for other states on early childhood learning, NC is now listed as one of only five states proposing to cut early childhood learning funding in FY10 according to a new report by PreK Now.

When you read the report, it’s tough to let policymakers get away with using the economic crisis as an excuse. It says, “By a margin of four to one, governors of the nation’s most fiscally challenged states are increasing or protecting funding for early education.”

The cover letter says, “The majority of governors are prioritizing pre-k, and though more modest than in recent years, gubernatorial proposals for FY10 still call for increasing state early education investments by almost 4 percent to $5.4 billion, nationally.

“Nine states and D.C. anticipate increases through their school funding formulas. In the minority are five governors who are proposing shortsighted decreases to their states’ pre-k investments.”

Is this what NC will now be known for? Contact your legislators this weekend. Tell them now is the time for strong leadership.

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Filed under budget, Child Care, Early Childhood, Legislative and Governmental, Uncategorized

New “Revenue” Proposals Hurt Children

The Convenant with North Carolina’s Children is reporting very distrubing developments.

According to an alert sent this afternoon:

  • The most recent revenue proposal would reduce the revenue target from $990 million down to $450 million! Obviously, if such a package was implemented, legislators would have to make an additional $540 million in cuts to the current spending package. The people of North Carolina cannot afford $540 million more in cuts to education, health care, and public safety.
  • Additionally, another revenue proposal under consideration would implement ONLY temporary taxes. This proposal is short-sighted and insufficient. State economists predict that revenues won’t rebound to last year’s level for another five years. Furthermore, at the end of next year, we’ll run out of all federal stimulus funds (we’re currently using $1.3 billion in stimulus funds to address the budget shortfall).
  • Also, we are hearing that many House members are beginning to slide on their commitment to raising any revenue at all. For instance, Rep. William Wainwright, a co-chair of the House Finance Committee, now believes that revenues should not be part of the equation. He’s slipping and we know that others are, too. Without any new revenue, we could be back to facing a cuts-only approach with up to $990 million more cut from the latest version of the budget.


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Filed under budget, Child Care, Early Childhood, Uncategorized

States Look to NC as Early Childhood Model

In a posting on July 10, 2009, the Center for Urban Child Policy in Memphis discusses North Carolina’s Smart Start as a “Model for Putting Young Children on the Right Path to Success in School and Life.”

Tennessee is joining other states right now in formulating an Early Childhood Comprehensive System. We hope that it will create the improved outcomes for at-risk children that have been demonstrated in North Carolina. As budgets are shrinking and the number of poor and at-risk children is expanding at an alarming rate, it is good to see federal, state and local governments partnering with parents and advocates for children to make smart policy that will improve the well-being of our children now and in the future. This is the kind of investing that has the power to improve the well-being of our children and our state.

Hope our state policymakers are paying attention! Read the full posting.

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Filed under budget, Child Care, Early Childhood, Legislative and Governmental, Uncategorized

Development Screenings Need to be Part of Well-child Visit

On average, 70 percent of young children with developmental delays are not diagnosed until they enter school. This means, by the time kindergarten begins, these children are already behind their peers. Thanks to Smart Start’s Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) program, more Tarheel children are screened for developmental delays and referred to services for help before they start school.
Families with children 0-5 know the value of regular well-child check-ups to keep up with vaccines and to evaluate their child’s growth in inches and pounds. But, these check-ups are also a chance to see how children are developing in the areas of communication, gross motor skills (arm and leg movements), fine motor skills (such as picking up cheerios), problem solving and social skills. The sooner challenges such as speech delays, learning disabilities, social/emotional problems, and autism are properly diagnosed, the sooner children can receive therapeutic interventions. When children get the interventions they need at a young age, they are more likely to graduate high school, hold a job, and avoid delinquency as adults.

The ABCD program is a national, evidence-based program that helps busy pediatricians and other primary healthcare providers incorporate developmental screenings into regular check-ups. Older screening approaches were too time-consuming and not practical for the typical 15 to 20 minute check up. ABCD uses standardized questionnaires about a child’s development that the parents answer. When results show a child is at-risk for a developmental delay, primary health care providers refer them for an in-depth evaluation.

In 2007, Smart Start implemented ABCD in doctors’ offices serving more than 19,000 children in eight counties: Brunswick, Chatham, Lee, Martin, Montgomery, Moore, Pitt and Richmond with great success. The percentage of children who received recommended screenings in practices in these counties increased from 80 to 98 percent. Of the children who were considered at-risk for developmental concerns, there was an increase in referrals for follow-up services from 53 to 65 percent. Smart Start ABCD project has expanded to serve Rowan, Alexander, Caldwell, Johnston, Cabarrus, Craven, Pamlico, Lenoir, and Greene counties. Union County is planning to start an ABCD program later this year.

We have reliable, easy-to-use screening tools and a strong early intervention system , it only makes sense that we screen all children during their well-child check-ups. ABCD helps make that happen.

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Filed under Developmental Delay, Early Childhood, Uncategorized

Together NC Calls for Revenue Solutions

together ncTogether NC is calling on legislators to for revenue solutions that make the state tax system more fair and stable over the long-term. The revenue side of the budget process is critical to a host of issues–include early childhood education, which is currently facing signficant cuts. Revenue will be needed if we are to maintain public investments. Today, Together NC is giving the letter below to state legislators.

July 6, 2009

Dear State Leader,

On behalf of the more than 100 organizations that belong to the Together NC coalition, thank you for the countless hours of work you and your colleagues have spent to craft a responsible state budget in the midst of an unprecedented decline in public revenues.

We are so grateful that both the House and Senate revenue plans would raise substantial revenue to avoid the most devastating cuts to public investments. Moreover, we are pleased to hear that the conference budget currently includes more revenue than was proposed in either budget proposal to date. In fact, the tax proposals from each chamber, taken together, include all the elements necessary to create a revenue package that will enable North Carolina to make it through the recession without harming the most vulnerable citizens and without undoing the state’s long-term investments in education and public safety. In addition, such a plan could give the state a more stable and fair tax system for the future.

As the coalition who has been with you all along, calling for not only a balanced approach that includes additional revenues, but also has called for revenue solutions that make the state tax system more fair and stable over the long-term, Together NC wants to be helpful to you in these final days.

To that end we would like to share with you our ideas for how the two competing revenue plans could be most effectively merged. Overall, we support the concepts put forward in the Senate Finance Committee’s draft proposal of broadening the base of the sales tax and personal income tax substantially and lowering some tax rates. We also strongly support the House’s plan to make the personal income tax more progressive by adding an additional tax bracket affecting top income-earners and their proposal to close corporate income tax loopholes. More specifically, we support the following:

  • On the personal income tax, adopt the Senate’s base broadening reform, but graft on one of the House’s new proposed upper income brackets. Net revenue benefit: $161 million next year and more than $400 million in ’10-11.
  • On the sales tax, again go with the Senate’s base broadening and expansion of the sales tax on electricity – this will be fairer and better for the long-term revenue health. Net benefit: As much as $500 million next year.
  • On business taxes, enact all of the changes proposed by the two houses including unitary combined reporting. Net benefit: $183 million next year and $354 million in ’10-11.
  • To lessen the regressive impacts of some of the changes on people of modest income, lawmakers should supplement the compromise by doubling the state earned income tax credit (EITC) and considering adoption of an alternative refundable credit for older residents on fixed incomes who do not benefit from the EITC.

Through our town hall meetings around the state, our calls to citizens to take action to call for a responsible budget, and our rally that drew more than 500 participants we are doing all we can to inform this debate and help you make the wisest decisions on behalf of your constituents and the entire state. We hope that you will give full consideration to the proposals outlined above.

Yours truly,
The 100+ organizations that make up Together North Carolina

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