In this video, we will continue to explain the laws we have for language acquisition and kindergarten readiness for Minnesota children who are deaf, deafblind & hard of hearing.

What are the foundations in place for language acquisition and kindergarten readiness in Minnesota?
Since 2007, Minnesota’s children and their families have benefited from the public policy set in place by our legislators, thanks to the efforts of community advocates, parents and MNCDHH board members.

The laws that were passed require:

An advisory committee with deaf, hard of hearing, and parent representation on the board
Each child’s progress is measured using evidence-based assessments to track their progress on meeting benchmarks including language acquisition.
The Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health must report the data to parents and summary information to the state.
Deaf Mentors to serve as role models and provide ASL and Deaf Culture information in the home.
A mandate for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening.
Loaner Bank for hearing aids
There are many laws in Minnesota for language acquisition and reporting. We will briefly explain each law and we will provide the law and statute number too. We also want to make sure it is clear that while we successfully advocated for these laws and we continue to track their results, other state agencies or organizations are responsible for the implementation and do the day to day work. We will explain who.

Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Mandate
Minnesota adopted the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Mandate in 2007, Minnesota Statute section 144.966. The earlier a baby is identified to have a hearing loss, the sooner the family can work to ensure language acquisition and receive services. The legislation is essential because it requires hearing loss screening by one month, confirmation of hearing loss by three months, and beginning intervention services by six months. This is called the 1-3-6 goals.

Since the implementation of the EHDI mandate in July 2007, screening for hearing loss in newborns has gone from 75% of newborns were screened to 99% of newborns were screened. The Minnesota Department of Health is responsible for this program. Visit their Improve EHDI website.

Parent to Parent Support
This is led by experienced parents of children who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing for new parents and families. Parent to Parent Support provide resources and support networks about parenting, attachment, resources, and schooling through a national curriculum without bias. This gives families the information they need to make decisions for their family. The program is run by Minnesota Hands & Voices and is called Parent Guides.

Deaf Mentors
After the 2007 legislative session, funding for Deaf Mentors was written into session law to provide in-home American Sign Language and Deaf Culture instruction.

The Deaf Mentor Family Program (DMFP) is provided to families who have a child identified as deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). The DMFP is focused on building a positive foundation for and improving access to communication by facilitating early language through American Sign Language (ASL) and sharing valuable insight about the social-emotional development of children who are DHH. The Minnesota Department of Human Services received funding for the program beginning July 1, 2007 and contracts with Lifetrack Resources for the service.

In 2013, Deaf Mentors were added in statute and funds dedicated to their program through the newborn blood spot fee for heritable conditions (Minnesota Statute 144.125). The Minnesota Department of Health contracts with Lifetrack Resources for the service.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Role Models
In 2016, Lifetrack Resources began to provide Deaf and Hard of Hearing Role Models, in addition to the Deaf Mentor Family Program. These wide ranges of services provides unbiased family support, connections to the DHH community and the opportunity to develop relationships with successful Role Models who are deaf or hard of hearing. This family-focused program offers guidance, resources, and a vision for the future to parents of children, who are key in fostering their child’s optimal development. The funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Hearing Aid Loaner Bank Program
The Minnesota Department of Health has a contract with the University of Minnesota to run the Hearing Instrument Loaner Program, which loans hearing aids to families who have a child with a hearing loss immediately upon request. The family uses the loaned hearing aids until their insurance comes through or until the family figures out a way to finance a pair of hearing aids for their child. Since 2007 to the present, every family who has requested to borrow hearing aids through this program has received it. The funding is provided from the Minnesota Department of Health.

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