Exposing deaf or hard of hearing children to signed or spoken language early is critical to their ability to learn a language. That’s one of the findings of a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
But there are some obstacles to providing quality early intervention for all children with hearing problems as well as determining whether those programs are effective.
One of those challenges is that early intervention service providers and schools have trouble attracting and retaining qualified staff. Schools and service providers have difficulty retaining teachers, interpreters, and other staff because these professionals can receive better pay outside of the education system.
The report comes on the heels of the renewal of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program in December. The program provides grants to help states develop programs to ensure that children referred from state screening programs receive prompt evaluations, diagnoses and appropriate interventions. The GAO points out that there is a disconnect between the detection program and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Many early intervention programs are provided under IDEA but the states can’t use their early detection and intervention grant money to evaluate those programs. That’s because they may not be able to access student data for privacy reasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies are working on ways to connect the grant programs and IDEA, the GAO said.