The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened equity and access issues for Black and Latino youth and those from low-income backgrounds, according to a new report from The Education Trust, ZERO TO THREE and the National Center for Learning Disabilities. The report also calls for state policymakers to leverage American Rescue Plan funding to close equity gaps in early intervention services.
The report, “Our Youngest Learners – Impact of COVID-19 on Early Intervention: Survey of States,” reveals findings from a national survey of state coordinators of early intervention services in 29 states.
The pandemic has impacted early intervention services, leading to outcomes such as decreased referral rates for early intervention services, increased wait times for services and fewer children having received early intervention services.
“Before the pandemic, we knew that the disparities in early intervention services meant the resources many White and upper-income families depend on for support were not readily accessible to eligible families of color and low-income families,” said Dr. Carrie Gillispie, senior research associate at The Education Trust. “This past year, early intervention services were so disrupted for already underserved families. This is a moment for necessary course correction.”
“The funding in the American Rescue Plan provides a real opportunity for states to not just address pandemic-related delays in crucial screening services, but to improve both data systems and service delivery in equity-focused ways across the nation,” said Meghan Whittaker, director of policy and advocacy, National Center for Learning Disabilities.