AB11 Would Expand Developmental Screening

Seventy percent of children with developmental delays go undetected until kindergarten. Developmental screening can help detect delays much earlier, but too few California children receive them. AB11 will change that.

Introduced by Assembly Members Kevin McCarty and Rob Bonta and co-sponsored by the First 5 Association, AB11 would require pediatricians to provide babies and toddlers with routine developmental screening using a validated screening tool. The requirement would apply to children who receive health coverage through Medi-Cal.

According to Children Now, which graded California’s developmental screening practices a “C-“ in their 2018 California Children‘s Report Card, California ranks near the bottom among states for the rate of young kids who receive screening. Screening rates are even lower for children of color.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children receive developmental screening when they reach 9, 18, and 30 months old. California’s MediCal program has adopted these recommendations, but there is confusion in the medical field about developmental screening practices. Pediatricians often do not use a validated screening tool to identify children at risk for developmental delays, or use screening tools inconsistently.

First 5 Contra Costa has expanded developmental screening services locally in the last few years, screening about 3,000 low-income children every year. We’ve helped community and county health clinics and other pediatricians serving low-income kids adopt screening practices in line with AAP recommendations.

This is a great start, but ensuring all children get the screening and developmental services they need requires policy change. AB11 would provide explicit language requiring how and when pediatricians conduct developmental screening. This will help more young children access timely and effective intervention services and reach their greatest potential.

Building Skills with Playdough

playdoh1You may be surprised to learn all of the ways using playdough with your children builds school readiness skills needed for kindergarten. Take a look:

Build fine motor muscles in their hands by kneading, pounding, squeezing or cutting the dough. These tiny muscles are needed when children start writing later.

Build eye-hand coordination by rolling dough into balls.

Build math readiness skills when you count how many balls (or circles) you made or when you use varying colors to create a pattern.

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Easy Art Activities for Little Kids

Art benefits young children’s development in many ways. It teaches children to be creative, to follow directions, to focus on an activity, to cut with scissors, to count and sort (which are early math skills), and to learn about shapes and colors. These are important skills children need when they start kindergarten.

Doing art with your child doesn’t have to be complicated. And there’s no right or wrong way to be creative. The most important thing is for children to have fun. Start with these easy-to-do engaging art activities for toddlers and preschoolers. To make clean up easier, lay down bags or newspapers or have your child wear an old adult t-shirt.

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Sleep and Bedtime Routines

Portrait of Asian child sleeping on the bedYoung children need a lot of sleep. In fact, sleep is the brain’s primary activity during early development. It’s during sleep that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems.

Studies show just one hour less of sleep a night during early childhood has long-lasting effects on proper language and cognitive development. Lack of sleep can also lead to behavioral problems, like hyperactivity, trouble managing emotions and poor concentration skills.

Sleep Guidelines

Every child is different, but there are basic guidelines about how much sleep kids need. According to the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Newborns sleep up to 20 hours a day.
  • By six months, babies will sleep up to 16 hours a day and may sleep through the night – which may only be a stretch of five to six hours in a row.
  • Toddlers need 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day between nighttime sleep and naps.
  • Preschoolers need about 10 to 13 hours a day.
  • Kids ages 5 and up still need about 10 hours a day.

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