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UTHSC’s Toni Whitaker Receives $94,000 Grant to Provide Support for CDC’s “Learn The Signs. Act Early.” Program


Toni M. Whitaker, MD, professor of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Developmental Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, has received a $94,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities to provide support to early childhood state/territorial programs and systems.

Dr. Toni Whitaker

The “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program network will strengthen resilience skills and provide resources for children, families, and communities during COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts. Dr. Whitaker, who also leads the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) program at the UTHSC Center on Developmental Disabilities, serves as the CDC’s “Act Early” Ambassador to Tennessee.

She will use grant funds to work with teams to bolster the four steps of early identification of developmental delays and disabilities across early childhood systems: parent-engaged developmental monitoring, developmental and autism screening, referral, and receipt of early intervention services for children from birth to age five.

State partners include the Tennessee Early Intervention System, Title V programs of the Tennessee Department of Health – Community Health Access and Navigation in Tennessee and Evidence-based Home Visiting, and the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others.