Peggy (Miksch) Kemp is one of thirty new Act Early Ambassadors selected by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). As the Kansas Act Early Ambassador, Peggy serves Kansans as their State Liaison point-of-contact for CDC’s national Learn the Signs. Act Early.
About her new Kansas role, Peggy says, “The CDC's Learn the Signs. Act Early. program aims to improve early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities so children and families can get the services and support they need as early as possible. This is an aim I share and I am very excited to be a part of this mission. My priority focus for this first year is to work with early care and education providers in the roll out of a new free one-hour online training. This training, Watch Me!" Comparing Milestones and Sharing Concerns, highlights the important role in monitoring children's development held by these professionals. The training includes a section on How to Talk with Parents about their Child's Development which I believe will be a strong resource for this community.”
Ambassadors are chosen through a Request for Application process. Peggy’s application was supported by Michael Wehmeyer, Ph.D., University of Kansas Department of Special Education; David Lindeman, Ph.D., Director, University of Kansas, Life Span Institute at Parsons; Louann Rinner, former Ambassador; and Jeanie Zortman, Kansas Act Early Team Leader. To be eligible, applicants must have a history of relationships/connections with state-level programs that serve young children and their families. In Kansas, Peggy has worked in early intervention/early childhood since 1997 in positions including her current position with KITS that have afforded her the opportunity to participate in a number of early childhood initiatives at the local, state and federal level. The campaign is to reach all families, all children so interaction with the broader early childhood community is critical.
Peggy’s role as Kansas Ambassador is an added responsibility but in many ways parallels what she already does in terms of working with a variety of early childhood partners to improve services to young families in Kansas. Kemp was elected to the fourth cohort of Act Early Ambassadors. The Ambassadors were selected to serve as liaisons to “Learn the Signs. Act Early” for their respective states. This cohort includes 32 Ambassadors representing 29 states and one organization (Autism Speaks). Ambassadors work as community champions with programs that serve young children and their parents such as Head Start and Early Head Start, WIC, home visiting, and others as well as health care and child care professionals to improve early identification of developmental delays and to collaborate with state agencies and campaign partners to improve policy and programs for early identification.