In this busy holiday season, as 2012 comes to a close, we want to stop for a moment to reflect with gratitude on how many ECHO "elves" have been working year round to improve hearing screening and followup services for infants and young children. With support from the ECHO Initiative, training workshops held this year have assisted over 600 individuals serving children in 134 programs from 30 states to gain screening skills. Thirteen webinars also attracted over 500 participants eager to learn more about implementing Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) hearing screening for children birth to three years of age.
We recognize Tennessee (TN) as one state where a host of caring individuals have been very, very busy. In August 2011, three model Early Head Start (EHS) programs participated in an ECHO Initiative training. Soon afterward, funding for 75 OAE screening units was secured through a collaborative effort between the Tennessee Head Start State Collaboration Office and the Early Intervention System Part C Program. Next, from January to March 2012, four regional ECHO trainings were held. Joining EHS participants in the trainings were Developmental Specialists from each of the nine Part C districts. Under the leadership of the Head Start (HS) State Collaboration Office Director, an audiologist and speech-language pathologist herself, all 17 EHS Programs received OAE units, as did HS programs with large numbers of three-year-old children.
To date, 102 EHS/HS participants and 22 Part C staff in Tennesee have been trained. Many are beginning to see the benefits of the ECHO Initiative:
- The EHS and Part C Programs are more confident in their screening results now that they are utilizing an objective tool.
- Children with recurrent middle ear effusion are being identified sooner and referred promptly for medical attention.
- Tennessee's Early Hearing Detection and Intervention/Newborn Hearing Screening (EHDI/NHS) Program will soon begin to receive screening results from EHS Programs in an effort to address newborn lost-to-followup issues and to identify young children with late-onset hearing loss.
The keys to success in TN include collaboration and an overall willingness to improve services to babies and young children by adopting current technology into screening protocols.
To all of you in TN and across the country who are giving the gift of hearing health to so many young children each day, the ECHO Initiative Team wishes you many gifts in return!!