Parenting is Hard, Accessing Services Can Be Harder

Posted in Development and Learning Diversity, Equity, Inclusion  |  Tagged ,

by Leigh-Kirsten Sims, Andres Alejandro Crucet-Choi, and Nicole Telfer (GU CEI and GULEND ’23)

My third child has a condition that was not diagnosed by his pediatrician until he was almost 4 years old. Parenting is hard–I had no idea what support any of my children needed, and my third child was no different, except he did need something different.  I was overwhelmed and confused, and I didn’t know anything about the world of early intervention services – I felt like I was on an island with my children; not a raft, but isolated. It wasn’t until months after my child’s 3rd birthday that someone at my place of worship talked about the resources available to me and my family, and so now I live in the arena of “what if I had known earlier, what would be my child’s life now?”

Studies have found that children from low-income families and racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to receive early intervention services than their peers, even when the children have similar or the same developmental delays. The study also found that children from families with lower levels of education and income were less likely to receive services. There’s nothing new here – whether we’re talking about maternal health or general health disparities, we see the same results, the same impact.

Healthcare, transportation, racial and linguistic biases, and more are all barriers to accessing a high quality of life. In America, some people can easily access this. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that children from low-income families are less likely to receive early intervention services than children from higher-income families. This is often due to a lack of access to affordable healthcare and insurance coverage. The report also found that children from rural areas may face additional barriers to accessing early intervention services, such as limited availability of services and a lack of transportation.

These disparities in access to early intervention services can have lifelong consequences for children. Without early intervention, children can fall behind in their development and struggle with basic skills such as communication and socialization. This can lead to difficulties in school and a lower quality of life overall.

Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. By addressing disparities in early intervention services, we can help ensure that all children have access to the support they need to thrive. It is crucial that we prioritize equity and inclusion in the field of early intervention to promote the well-being and success of racially and ethnically minoritized children and their families. Together, we can create a more equitable and inclusive society for all.