Dr. Tyeese L. Gaines, NBC News, October 18, 2017
Black and Latino children with developmental delays are much less likely — 78 percent less — than white children to receive the early intervention services they need, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
The researchers interviewed low-income African-American and Hispanic moms to understand the role their personal beliefs play on why services aren’t being utilized.
Some of the reasons included feeling that their children weren’t much different from other children they observed, the belief that children develop in their own time, and feeling overwhelmed with other social and financial stressors.
“The perspectives voiced as themes in this study are common opinions that are expressed nearly daily by the African-American mothers in our practice during discussions concerning developmental challenges,” said Dr. Lorraine Beraho, a pediatrician with Unity Healthcare, Inc., a community healthcare center in Washington, D.C.
Beraho added that mothers who seek care for their children at the center live in one of the most socioeconomically challenged neighborhoods in the area, with a host of stressors such as safety, homelessness, and financial instability.
All of the children whose mothers participated in the study had access to a pediatrician, so access to a physician was not the issue. The bigger hindrance was understanding the complicated referral process.
Magnusson said that simply providing the referral isn’t enough. The earlier delays are identified and treated, the better the child’s outcome.
“These findings highlight the importance of supporting families throughout the referral process,” she said.