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The Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Governor Baxter School for the Deaf (MECDHH/GBSD) announced the acceptance of the Earliest Interactions grant application to The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for fiscal year (FY) 2020.

The purpose of this grant is to support comprehensive and coordinated state and territory EHDI systems of care so families with newborns, infants, and young children up to 3 years of age who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) receive appropriate and timely services that include hearing screening, diagnosis, and early intervention (EI). A strong focus is family engagement and ensuring families have the opportunity to meet deaf and hard of hearing adults early in their baby’s journey.

MECDHH/GBSD is Maine’s appointed state deaf and hard of hearing education agency supporting the development and education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children age birth to 21 regardless of location, hearing level or communication approach of the child. Our goal is to continue to be the go-to center for deaf education in the state of Maine. We support students and their families statewide to build an inclusive environment for linguistic, social, academic and personal success

The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program grant is given to up to 59 recipients in the US/US Islands and is also available to domestic faith-based and community-based organizations. The HRSA grant program runs for four years from April 1, 2020 - March 31, 2024 with a focus on early intervention for children from newborn to three years old.

Led by principal Director and Investigator, Karen Hopkins, Earliest Interactions is funded to achieve, collect, and report on the following program objectives by March 2024:

  • Using the state/territory’s data from the 2017 CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) EHDI Hearing Screening and Follow-up Survey (HSFS) as baseline data

  • Increase by 1 percent from baseline per year, or achieve at least a 95 percent screening rate, whichever is less, the number of infants that completed a newborn hearing screen no later than 1 month of age

  • Increase by 10 percent from baseline, or achieve a minimum rate of 85 percent, the number of infants that completed a diagnostic audiological evaluation no later than 3 months of age

  • Increase by 15 percent from baseline, or achieve a minimum rate of 80 percent, the number of infants identified to be DHH that are enrolled in EI services no later than 6 months of age

  • Using data collected from year 1 as baseline data: increase by 20 percent from baseline the number of families enrolled in family-to-family support services by no later than 6 months of age

  • Increase by 10 percent the number of families enrolled in DHH adult-to-family support services by no later than 9 months of age

  • Increase by 10 percent the number of health professionals and service providers trained on key aspects of the EHDI Program

Earliest Interactions was selected due to its goal of supporting the development of state/territory programs and systems of care to ensure that children who are DHH are identified through newborn, infant, and early childhood hearing screening and receive diagnosis and appropriate early intervention to optimize language, literacy, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Additional grant information can be found on the MECDHH/GBSD website at https://www.mecdhh.org/new-title/new-page or by visiting Earliest Interactions online (https://earliestinteractions.com/)

For more information contact Karen Hopkins, Director of Earliest Interactions at karen.hopkins@mecdhh.org