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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Texas A&M Leads New Initiative to Help Children with Special Health Care Needs

It can be difficult for parents and caregivers of children with disabilities to navigate through state services as they seek the best care for their child.

McMaughan Friday Letter
[Photo: Dr. Darcy McMaughan]

In an effort to better evaluate the special needs of this vulnerable population, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has awarded $1.125 million to the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health to develop a “one front door” assessment instrument.

Dr. Darcy McMaughan, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, will lead the effort to develop the State of Texas Access Reform (STAR) Kids Screening and Assessment Instrument for children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other complex health conditions. The assessment instrument is part of the new Medicare managed care program legislatively mandated in Texas.

The STAR Kids Screening and Assessment Instrument will be designed to be administered by trained nurses and contain various modules for personal care services and specialized nursing care. Certain responses will serve as triggers to advance children into various more extensive modules that identify the need for medical equipment, behavioral health services and other therapies. The assessment will improve coordination and customization of care and will account for individual and family preferences.

“It is our goal to simplify the process of receiving services by developing an assessment instrument that will help families receive appropriate, comprehensive, person-centered support for children with disabilities,” Dr. McMaughan said.

Dr. McMaughan will lead a team in validating and reliability testing of the assessment instrument. The team will also develop training materials to ensure nursing evaluators are proficient in administering the assessment. Eventually, Dr. McMaughan hopes to provide online training.

Other Texas A&M team members include Ms. Emily Naiser, and Ms. Laura Warren, of the Texas A&M Public Policy Research Institute; Dr. Timothy Elliott, and Dr. Constance Fournier, of the Texas A&M Department of Educational Psychology; and Ms. Szu-Hsuan (Sherry) Lin, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health.