<< Back

Janet Farrell

Janet Farrell, Director of the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program in Massachusetts, has devoted more than half her professional life to ensuring that children with hearing loss and their families have the information, resources and supports they need. Her twin commitments to children and families and public health inform and enrich all her work. Not only has Ms. Farrell been the architect, leader, advocate and public face of the highly successful MA newborn hearing screening program, but she has also played an important national role.

Ms. Farrell has led the Massachusetts EHDI program since its inception in 1998 following passage of Chapter 243 of the acts of 1998. Prior to passage, Ms. Farrell engaged a broad group of stakeholders – including families, consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing, physicians, researchers, audiologists, legislators and public health officials – whose input was crucial in passing the newborn hearing legislation. Many of these stakeholders stayed on as an Advisory Committee to the UNHS Program and, in collaboration with Ms. Farrell, helped to develop regulations, guidelines, policies and quality assurance activities.

Over the past 12 years, under Ms. Farrell's leadership, the Massachusetts EHDI program has come to be recognized as a national model, delivered in a family-centered, culturally competent, coordinated fashion that ensures that every baby receives screening, diagnostic services as needed, intervention services and family to family support. In 2008, 99.5% of all babies born in MA were screened. Over 1400 were referred to a diagnostic center. Of these, 14% were found to have a hearing loss and almost 80% of these children were enrolled in Early Intervention. A triumph of Ms. Farrell's program is that only 4.2% of children were lost to follow-up. The program runs so effectively due to her committed oversight. Her work continues to garner the respect and admiration of countless families, colleagues and health care professionals.

Ms. Farrell's accomplishments include a strong Family Support program with multiple resources available in 13 languages, outreach and follow up offered by parents of children with hearing loss who help identify and organize next steps for families, a nationally recognized data and tracking system that integrates with other MA data sources and birth certificate data, strong working relationships with the EI system, Specialty Services Programs and the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, modeling of culturally competent practices to both public health staff and practitioners, and a commitment to supporting families to receive care for their children within a Medical Home.

In addition to her work in Massachusetts, Ms. Farrell has been very active on the national level, participating in CDC and HRSA working groups. She has provided support to other state and internationally to set-up and enhance EHDI programs. She served as President of Directors of Speech and Hearing Programs in State Health and Welfare Agencies and is Region 1 representative for NCHAM. Ms. Farrell has co-authored a number of publications including information on Family Satisfaction (American Journal of Audiology, June 2007) and Loss to Follow-Up (Pediatrics, February 2008).