Maternal Socio-Economic and Race/Ethnic Characteristics Associated with Early Intervention Participation
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Objectives To evaluate whether Massachusetts Early Intervention (EI) serves children at risk of developmental delay due to social factors, we identified socio-demographic characteristics associated with program enrollment and examined predictors of participation at each stage from referral to enrollment. Methods The Pregnancy to Early Life Longitudinal (PELL) data system linked birth certificate, hospital discharge, and EI data for all Massachusetts births, 1998–2000. We identified predictors of enrollment among births and predictors of referral, eligibility evaluation among those referred, and enrollment among eligible children using multivariate modified Poisson models to adjust for medical risks. Results Overall, 29,950 children (13.7% of births) enrolled in EI. Most social risk indicators predicted enrollment, including maternal government insurance (RR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.29–1.36) and maternal education ≤10 years (RR = 1.36, 95% CI 1.30–1.42). Having a foreign-born (RR = 0.77, 95% CI 0.74–0.80), non-English speaking (RR = 0.93, 95% CI 0.89–0.97) or Asian (RR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.82–0.94) mother was negatively associated with enrollment. Of births, 18.6% were referred to EI. Similar socio-demographic variables predicted referral as predicted enrollment. Among referrals, 87.7% received an evaluation. Evaluation was negatively associated with young maternal age, black maternal race, and high poverty level. Of eligible children, 93.0% enrolled. Enrollment among eligible children was negatively associated with young maternal age and high poverty level. Conclusion In Massachusetts, children born with social risk factors have high EI participation. Nevertheless, children in immigrant communities may face barriers to initial contact with EI, while children from low socioeconomic environments may be at risk for not enrolling after EI referral.
KeywordsEarly Intervention Early childhood development Program evaluation Race-ethnic disparities Socio-economic disparities
The PELL data system is supported by the Centers for Disease Control grants S1887—21/23 and S3485—23/23. Additional funding for Early Intervention program evaluation was provided by US Department of Education Early Intervention grant 45139021. We would like to thank Steven Evans, Mark McLaughlin, and Jean Shimer for their assistance in preparing the data files, and Howard Cabral for his careful review of the manuscript.
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