Family Access 3 Year Plan
There are an estimated 32,000 to 64,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Twin Cities seven-county metro area (1% to 2% of the 2008 U.S. Census Bureau population estimate), and recent data suggests autism affects as many as one in 150 children. There are lifelong emotional and economic impacts on the entire family when one or more family members have an intellectual or developmental disability, due to the vulnerability associated with these conditions. While there is an array of services available across the lifespan for those with special needs, the systems are complex, fragmented and difficult to access. Families with young and adult children with disabilities often experience stress, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, grief and isolation as a result of complex medical, educational, social services and financial issues.
Families from racial and ethnic minority and/or socio-economically disadvantaged communities are especially impacted by barriers to accessing and utilizing services for their children with disabilities. Interagency Early Intervention Committees in Ramsey and Hennepin counties have identified meeting the needs of low-income and multicultural families as a high priority. The committees have analyzed data in conjunction with Minnesota Department of Education, identified gaps in services for low-income and multicultural families, and set goals, including increasing child find activities and support to Spanish, Hmong and Somali families through the information and referral process. Meetings with early childhood professionals responsible for conducting screenings for developmental delays and helping families access needed services revealed that low-income and Latino, Hmong and Somali families often fall through the cracks because there are not enough staff to provide intensive follow-along services to ensure that families complete all the steps required to access medical...