Jessa Culver

Centering the Lived Experiences of Caregivers of Color Navigating Early Intervention (EI) Services through the Primary Care Clinic

Early intervention (EI) services – including but not limited to speech, occupational, and mental health therapies – have been proven to significantly benefit young children’s development, shaping their readiness for school and offering pivotal support for parents. However, racial disparities persist in identification for and access to early intervention services. Few studies to date explore factors contributing to such racial disparities. In particular, there is a dearth of literature exploring ways racism shapes the process by which caregivers, or parents, navigate the screening and EI referral process through the pediatric primary care clinic. The present study seeks to explore the experiences of caregivers of color in this service-seeking process, and to investigate whether – and how – they experience racism, or are racialized, in the process. Through in-depth qualitative interviews, this project will facilitate a collective dialogue with caregivers who have experienced this process. The insight of caregivers themselves – surfaced in this study – is a pivotal aspect of systems-level change. Understanding how this process racializes its users will elucidate pathways of change towards a more equitable system, in which children of color receive early intervention services in a timely and appropriate manner.