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What programs help those with autism and other developmental disabilities?

Evaluating CARES awards in helping those with autism

Challenge

Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) programs responding to the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act Initiative seek to help individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities (autism/DDs) to enjoy a full life from childhood to adulthood and thrive in systems that support their needs and promote dignity, independence, and active participation in their community.

Solution

CARES awards help to advance research; improve the capacity of public health agencies to build and maintain coordinated systems of services for individuals with autism/DDs; and train the health care workforce to screen, refer, and provide services for children and youth with autism/DDs

Westat continues the multiyear evaluation to understand the net impact of these programs. Through analysis of secondary awardee data and primary data collected through surveys and in-depth interviews, Westat provides MCHB and its awardees with the information they need to:

  • Monitor ongoing investments in training, research, and systems of care innovations
  • Assess the effectiveness of those investments in addressing the needs of people with autism/DDs
  • Identify areas where continued improvements are needed

Results

Westat’s data collection, analyses, and reports provide MCHB important, independent findings on the impacts of programs congressionally authorized under the Autism CARES Act. Comprehensive analysis findings identify effects on individuals with autism/DDs across the lifespan and where program gaps may exist, ultimately leading to improvements in programs that support the health needs and quality of life of individuals with autism/DDs.

This project was begun by Insight Policy Research, and work is continuing by Westat.

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