Play_Group2-1Imagine your two-year-old doesn’t talk as much as her peers, and sometimes you feel like she doesn’t understand what you’re telling her. You’ve talked with your pediatrician and had her assessed at the Regional Center. Her assessment reveals that she is 40% delayed in her communication skills.

Forty percent may seem serious enough for immediate intervention, but thanks to California budget cuts, it no longer meets the threshold for state-funded early intervention services. For that, she’d have to be 50% delayed.

So what’s a family to do?

Early intervention services are most effective when services begin early in life. But new restrictions mean that many children’s delays will go untreated and may even get worse.

To address this gap in service and take advantage of this critical window in a child’s development, First 5 Contra Costa is launching new developmental playgroups for children whose delays – while still significant – are not severe enough to qualify for state-funded services.

First 5 Contra Costa recently awarded $40,000 to We Care Services for Children and Baby Builders to pilot the playgroups in four locations. Services will take place in Bay Point, Brentwood, Concord, and San Pablo and will be provided in English and Spanish.

Specialists will lead the playgroups and work with children to improve their development and will provide tips for parents on how to address their child’s unique challenges. In addition, the playgroups will provide an opportunity for children to interact with one another, which will be good practice for those enrolling in preschool.

Children will be referred to the playgroups based on results from developmental screenings provided by First 5 programs.  Last year, one in five of the children screened through our funded programs was referred for additional assessments and nearly 40% had results indicating the child’s development needed monitoring.

Playgroups are expected to begin by March.  More information will be posted here as it becomes available.

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