More NC Children Getting Services for Developmental Delays

Press Contact: Heather Strickland, 919-821-9564,


New Study Shows ABCD Increases Number of Young Children Being Detected for Developmental Delays

[Raleigh, NC] – A recent report shows that a statewide partnership between Smart Start and Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) means that higher percentages of young children are getting screened for developmental delays and referred to appropriate services.

Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) is a proven, universal approach to screening young children in health care settings. ABCD works to increase health and developmental screening and referral rates for all young children by integrating routine screenings into well-child visits.

“Nationally, nearly 16 percent of children have some sort of learning disabilities, or speech and language delays,” stated Cindy Watkins, President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children, the organization that leads the Smart Start network. “By identifying these disabilities early and getting families the support they need, children are more likely to graduate from high school.”

ABCD is a partnership between Smart Start and CCNC. ABCD Coordinators work with medical professionals to increase the use of standardized screening tools and to refer children who may need follow-up for appropriate services.

“North Carolina has made important gains in screening young children, with more than 90 percent getting checked out for development delays and other problems,” said CCNC CEO L. Allen Dobson, Jr., MD.  “This helps to catch problems early, when they can be more effectively treated, and at lower cost.”

Key findings include:

  • ABCD Coordinators served 246 practices and 1,345 providers.
  • These practices serve roughly 85,000 children birth-5 enrolled in Medicaid90.6 percent of children due for a developmental screening were screened.
  • 60 percent of children found at-risk were referred for further assessment or services or were already receiving services.
  • 74 percent of children due for autism screening, were screened.
  • Developmental screening rates among ABCD practices went from 85.2 percent to 96.3 percent.

ABCD has been a program in North Carolina for the last 16 years. With the funding from the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, the program has been able to expand into all 14 CCNC networks. The RTT-ELC grant ends December 2016, however there have been great strides to imbed this work into the existing fabric of CCNC and Smart Start. An online training series was created for ABCD coordinators, community partners, physicians, and state-level administrators interested in the program and is set to be released later this year.


Smart Start is a network of 75 nonprofit local partnerships that serve all 100 North Carolina counties. This network is led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) that ensures fiscal and programmatic accountability, and coordinates the statewide network to create better outcomes for children and families.

CCNC’s family of companies includes parent company CCNC, Inc. and NC Community Care Networks, a community-based, public-private partnership that creates “medical homes” in all 100 counties for North Carolina Medicaid recipients. The CCNC enterprise is dedicated to innovative approaches to population management that improve health and reduce costs, particularly for vulnerable populations. To learn how CCNC improves quality and saves millions of dollars every year, visit


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