Who receives speech/language services by 5 years of age in the United States?

Paul L. Morgan, Carol Scheffner Hammer, George Farkas, Marianne M. Hillemeier, Steve Maczuga, Michael Cook, Stephanie Morano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Purpose: We sought to identify factors predictive of or associated with receipt of speech/language services during early childhood. We did so by analyzing data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth Cohort (ECLS-B; Andreassen Fletcher, 2005), a nationally representative data set maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. We addressed two research questions of particular importance to speech-language pathology practice and policy. First, do early vocabulary delays increase children’s likelihood of receiving speech/language services? Second, are minority children systematically less likely to receive these services than otherwise similar White children? Method: Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed for a population-based sample of 9,600 children and families participating in the ECLS-B. Results: Expressive vocabulary delays by 24 months of age were strongly associated with and predictive of children’s receipt of speech/language services at 24, 48, and 60 months of age (adjusted odds ratio range = 4.32–16.60). Black children were less likely to receive speech/language services than otherwise similar White children at 24, 48, and 60 months of age (adjusted odds ratio range = 0.42–0.55). Lower socioeconomic status children and those whose parental primary language was other than English were also less likely to receive services. Being born with very low birth weight also significantly increased children’s receipt of services at 24, 48, and 60 months of age. Conclusion: Expressive vocabulary delays at 24 months of age increase children’s risk for later speech/language services. Increased use of culturally and linguistically sensitive practices may help racial/ethnic minority children access needed services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-199
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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