Why is it important to engage community partners in developmental screening?
Bureau Chief/Medical Director/Title V Director - Family Health Bureau, New Mexico Department of Health
As many as one in four children aged 0 to 5 is at moderate or high risk for developmental, behavioral or social delays. Proper administration and scoring of developmental screening tools contribute to improved health outcomes for young children by ensuring early identification of delays. This, in turn, leads to timely referrals to Early Intervention programs, which enhance development and provide support to the child and family.
Engaging community partners in the promotion of monitoring, screening and referral helps to increase awareness and ensure that more children with developmental and/or behavioral delays and disorders are identified, leading to appropriate intervention and treatment services. Engaging community partners also helps to identify shared measures, facilitate collaboration and reduce duplication across sectors. Community partners bring a wealth of information and expertise that assist with moving toward the goals of building a universal screening system and helping families successfully connect with support services.
Program Administrator - Client and Clinical Care Program Office, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
Screening for delays is only the beginning of the story. Ensuring that children receive the necessary referral and access to services is key to changing the direction of a child’s development. Even among those who are screened and recommended for services, only two-thirds are evaluated to determine if they qualify for Early Intervention Colorado services. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab notes that while screening is important, it must also be supported by a coordinated, diverse number of services that include referral, evaluation and service delivery” (2012 SERIES: An Integrated approach to supporting child development). In order to ensure equal opportunities for children to succeed, all children should be screened, referred early when concerns exist and connected to services as appropriate.
Cross-agency collaboration is needed to achieve the goal of linking children to needed services. The development of robust, coordinated systems will improve efficiencies in our systems and ensure that children receive the care they need when they need it. Each partner is a key link, bringing its knowledge and expertise to the table to build a strong and well-coordinated system for developmental monitoring, screening, referral and connecting children to supportive services. In this way, the community ensures that more children and families reach the services and resources they need.