Document Type



In November of 1984, the Navajo Tribal Council challenged the Saved the Children Federation (SCF) to help the tribe improve services for children with developmental disabilities living on or near the Navajo Nation. In accepting this challenge, SCF staff sought the advice and assistance of tribal officials, service providers, advocates and others. The purpose of this project is to identify means for serving Navajo children with developmental disabilities aged 0-5 and their families. To achieve this end, three objectives were set: 1) estimate the prevalence of development disabilities among Navajo children 0-5 years living in the Navajo Nation; 2) determine what services they and their families require; and 3) recommend policy and practice, involving existing resources to the extent feasible, to assure that needed services are reviewed. Thus, the report presents findings emerging from the project and offers 16 policy recommendations relative to the needs of children with disabilities aged 0-5 years and their families. The results of the findings of associated with the numbers of Navajo children with disabilities are conflicting ranging between 2 and 15 percent. Low birth weight, severe trauma, fetal alcohol effects and bacterial meningitis were found to be the leading diagnostic conditions. Sixteen recommendations emerged from the work of the panel appointed by the Navajo Nation chairman. Given the range and mass of information considered, a conceptual framework was developed to ease review of the panel's work and to structure future discussion. This framework in three major components: underlying values, guiding policy, and program practice. In conclusion, building a viable delivery system to serve children with disabilities and their families will require the cooperation of many, including persons with disabilities, family members, neighbors, policy makers at all levels, and professionals working both in the public and private sector.

Publication Date



Save the Children Federation, Window Rock, Arizona.