Evaluation of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau's Combating Autism Act Initiative
The Combating Autism Act Initiative addressed urgent issues affecting people with autism and their families. It includes reducing barriers to screening and diagnosis; supporting research on evidence-based interventions with children and adolescents; developing a system of services that includes screening children early; conducting early, interdisciplinary evaluations; and training professionals to use valid screening tools and evidence-based early interventions.
We designed and conducted an evaluation of nine state autism demonstration grants and the implementation of their state plans. We also assessed the role of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs in coordinating and supporting the state demonstrations. To determine the infrastructure necessary to implement an effective system of care for children, we abstracted data from existing sources (such as annual progress reports, continuing grant applications, and the Discretionary Grant Information System) and developed new data collection mechanisms.
Evaluation findings were reported to Congress and others to illustrate progress on the initiative. The study documented grantee achievements, highlighted innovative practices that had potential for becoming best practices in other states, and noted both where gaps continue to exist and what more could be done to fill those gaps through future efforts.