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For immediate release: August 8, 2016
Contact: Craig Smith
Phone: 518-402-3130

Governor Cuomo Announces $2.1 Million In Funding To Screen Children For Developmental Delays And Promote Maternal Well-Being

Western New York and Long Island Projects Will Serve as Blueprint for Statewide Model

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $2.1 million to increase developmental skills among children and decrease maternal depression in the Western New York and Long Island regions. The Council on Children and Families will partner with the New York State Department of Health and local agencies on the projects to ultimately develop a statewide model for screening children earlier for developmental delays and their mothers for depression and to provide needed services sooner to promote long-term success.

“All of New York's children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Governor Cuomo said. “These programs help level the field by detecting problems and providing services for more children at an early age. This action brings us one step closer to a stronger and more just New York for all.”

The five-year Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Impact grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration will help New York State decrease health inequities and put all New York children on a path to success through projects in Western New York and Long Island. The New York State Council of Children and Families and the Department of Health projects have a two-pronged goal: to screen children sooner for developmental delays and to provide maternal depression screenings in pediatric, family health and early childhood and education settings.

In Nassau County, the state partners will work with a pediatrician’s group to screen babies and toddlers for developmental delays and disabilities and, when needed, connect them with services to help them develop fundamental skills, such as talking, walking and interacting with others. Erie and Niagara Counties will work with early childhood providers to improve child development screening rates and increase the number of referrals to services for children with developmental delays.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for developmental delays and disabilities at nine, 18, 24 and 30 months of age. In Erie and Niagara Counties, only about 40-percent of children receive standardized screenings for developmental delays and only one in five with an identified developmental delay actually receives services. In Nassau County, fewer than 30-percent of physicians routinely screen children for developmental delays. As part of this project, the Council on Children and Families and its partners will create the blueprint for a statewide model to provide early screenings and services. Early interventions are proven to promote the well-being of children and reduce their need for services later in life.

Council on Children and Families Executive Director Deborah Benson said, “Only two of every 10 children in New York State receive a developmental screening and minority children are screened at even lower rates. With this project, we will work to improve the rate of developmental screenings and access to services so that all children get an equal start in life.”

The second part of the project will focus on maternal depression, which affects approximately 13-percent of all mothers in New York State. Maternal depression can have a negative impact on family functioning and child development, but maternal depression is highly treatable, especially if caught early. Under this grant, the Council on Children and Families will work to better educate mothers about depression and connect them with needed services to help them be more effective parents.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Early diagnosis and intervention is proven to be critically important to providing the best outcomes for growth and success for our children. This federal funding will provide additional resources to help professionals reach more children sooner.”

Congresswoman Kathleen Rice said, “We know that regular screening is critically important for identifying developmental delays and disabilities in children and intervening early to connect them with services that can help them overcome those challenges, and we know that too many children in Nassau County don’t undergo screening in the crucial first months and years of their lives. I’m pleased that we secured this federal funding to expand access to screening and services, reduce health care disparities in Nassau County, and improve the long-term health of mothers and young children.”

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “This funding will provide critical support to families, pediatricians, and local agencies working to protect our children. Improvements in screening rates will help to identify the programs and services children may need at an earlier point in their lives and will help their families tap into a support network that will assist them as their children grow. This is a good investment in the health of our children and the health of our communities.”

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano said, “I thank Governor Cuomo for securing these Federal funds to assist Nassau County in screening more children for developmental delays and bolstering our efforts to support new mothers who experience depression. Nassau County was nationally recognized for its early intervention initiatives and these funds will further assist us in achieving long-term success for both children and mothers alike.”

About The Council on Children and Families

The Council on Children and Families coordinates New York State health, education and human services systems as a means to provide more effective systems of care for children and families. Follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter @nysccf, and bookmark its website,

The Council works with its 12 member agencies to coordinate the New York State health, education, and human service systems to provide more effective systems of care for children and families. Members of the Council include the Department of Health, the Department of Labor, the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Mental Health, the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Office for the Aging, and the State Education Department.