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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.
Birth To 3 Years
Children's Hearing Help Fund (CHHF)
The Children's Hearing Help Fund (CHHF) will be used to provide assistance for qualifying families with minor children, from newborns to eighteen years of age for services such as hearing evaluations, loaner hearing devices, permanent hearing devices or the ongoing maintenance and replacement of the devices if necessary until the child reaches eighteen years of age. Hearing loss is the most common birth defect with three out of every 1000 newborns being found to have a permanent hearing problem that causes them to be at high risk for developing communication delays unless early help is provided to their families. Florida can expect approximately 600 new children to be confirmed as hearing impaired annually. Approximately 37% of families have insurance and/or financial resources however insurance rarely covers even a portion of hearing aids and most families with young children cannot readily afford to pay for hearing aids, each of which can cost as much as a refrigerator ($1000-$3000) and may need to be replaced every 3 years. Approximately 43% of children will have Medicaid coverage that could be applied to meet the cost of permanent amplification devices and an additional 20% are found to be from financially needy families that have no resources available. Therefore many families are faced with trying to purchase expensive hearing aids, typically 5-6 times before the child becomes an adult.
Information and statistics
- Nationally, three out of every 1000 newborns have a hearing loss. It is the most common birth defect.
- Even mild hearing loss or hearing loss in only one ear, if undetected, has substantial detrimental consequences. Research shows that children with hearing loss in one ear are 10 times as likely to be held back at least one grade level compared to matched group of children with normal hearing. Research notes that children identified with hearing loss at birth are, by the time they enter school, one to two years developmentally ahead of their hearing impaired peers who were not diagnosed until after they were six months old.
- Before universal newborn hearing screening the average age at which children were diagnosed with hearing loss was 2.5 years. Very important speech-language development occurs significantly earlier and these children frequently required intensive special instruction throughout all their school years.
- Through identification of hearing loss in the first 3 months and by working with the parents and caregivers to communicate effectively with their child thereby preventing delays in language, cognitive and social development these early identified children have the opportunity to develop on par with unimpaired peers. Without amplification and early intervention services by 6 months of age, lifelong delays in communication and learning may be expected.
- By the time a child with hearing loss graduates from high school, more than $400,000 per child can be saved in special education costs if the child is identified early and given appropriate educational, medical, and audiological services.
- Only by continuing consistent use of appropriate and well functioning amplification, can children with hearing loss continue to have the opportunity to access teacher instruction in classrooms using their remaining hearing. When the hearing aids of a school-age child need to be replaced or repaired, every day that the child is unable to hear optimally can be like a day they are absent from school!
Information and statistics courtesy of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management - Utah State University (NCHAM) or the National Institute on Deafness and Communicative Disorders (NIDCD).