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Unique Report Focuses on SD Native Children with Special Needs

Native American children with special needs in South Dakota are for the most part receiving the same access to care as their non-native counterparts, according to new data. (iStockphoto)
Native American children with special needs in South Dakota are for the most part receiving the same access to care as their non-native counterparts, according to new data. (iStockphoto)
May 9, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - Native American children with special needs in South Dakota are largely faring as well as their non-native counterparts, according to a new report.

But the data in the latest South Dakota Kids Count issue brief show there's room for improvement.

Lisa Sanderson, associate director for South Dakota Parent Connection, says this first-of-its-kind report measures how well Native families are able to access care for their children.

She explains it looked at six core outcomes, and found the state's Native American children with special needs were lacking in only a few areas, including access to what are called medical homes.

"That was the greatest disparity not only in South Dakota, but in all of the states reporting," says Sanderson.

The report looked at unique data from the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, which covers seven states with large Native American populations.

The report shows that services for these Native American children are, for the most part, keeping pace with other racial groups.

Sanderson says this is the first time they've been able to measure how Native American families are accessing such services as special-needs health screenings, and the money to pay for those services.

"If you don't look at where you are, you don't know where you can target your resources and focus on improvements," she says. "With this kind of reporting, we can see where there are lags, and then we can make determinations about what can we do to support families."

Using this new data, Sanderson says South Dakota Parent Connection will work with the state's Health Department to see how they can improve access to services, including medical homes.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD