Expanding the number of pediatricians who routinely provide developmental screening services to infants and toddlers is one goal of Help Me Grow, the system we’re building to connect children to the early screening and community services they need to thrive. Thanks to a generous grant from the Thomas J. Long Foundation, providing this vital service to more children is becoming a reality.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental screening for children at 9, 18 and 24 months, but research shows that only about half of pediatricians report routinely screening patients younger than 36 months. The sooner children with delays receive help, the better they do in life, so it is critical to identify concerns as early as possible.
With our Long grant, a $5 million grant shared with First 5 Alameda to bolster Help Me Grow efforts in both counties, we engaged the Lucile Packard Medical Home Project to reach out to pediatric offices. Packard provides training and support to practices on the use of Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), a developmental and behavioral screening tool that assists in identifying areas of developmental concern in children younger than age five. While the ASQ doesn’t provide a diagnosis, it can detect signs that a child is behind on reaching developmental milestones or may need additional support.
The Pittsburg Health Clinic was the first county clinic to pilot the ASQ, and with the Long funding, we’ve been able to train all 13 county clinic sites.
In addition, staff from Lucile Packard has trained 7 additional sites, such as La Clinica Health Services in Concord, bringing the total number of new pediatric sites offering screening to 20. All of these practices are certified Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (CHDP) providers, a state-funded program providing health assessments and services to low-income children.
The Packard staff will continue reaching out to train other CHPD providers in the county and may target practices serving under-insured or other low-income children. The goal is to provide universal screening to all children in Contra Costa, starting with low-income children first.
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