Healthy development in the earliest years of life is tied to children’s long-term educational and life outcomes. Developmental delays can occur in a child’s social, emotional behavioral, cognitive and/or physical development. Identifying and addressing delays - as early as possible - is critical to ensuring the best outcomes for children.
If you are concerned that your infant, toddler or preschooler is not developing appropriately in one or more of these areas (social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive or physical development), trust your instincts and seek further assessment.
- Contact Your Child’s Pediatrician or Primary Care Health Provider: Your child’s pediatrician should be your first call. Armed with the latest research showing the importance of early identification and intervention, more and more primary care providers are conducting developmental screening during children’s well visits and connecting children to services when screening shows concerns. Some child health providers use formal screening tools and others ask questions, monitor skill development and consult with childcare and other service providers. Your child’s health care provider is an excellent source of help if you have concerns.
- Call the United Way’s Child Development Infoline by dialing 800-505-7000: Trained care coordinators can work with you to find assessment and helpful services. They can connect you to the Ages and Stages Monitoring System, which will provide you with periodic screening tools that you complete at home and activities to promote your child’s development. If screening shows concerns, Child Development Infoline staff can help you obtain evaluations from early intervention services and connect you to community programs through Help Me Grow.
- Talk to your child’s childcare provider: Childcare staff work with children everyday and are committed to promoting development and detecting concerns. Childcare providers sometimes use formal screening tools, too, and can help you find further assessment and intervention services when appropriate.
If you have any concerns about how your child is learning, behaving or developing, don’t wait. The resources above will help you help your child to achieve the best developmental outcomes.
This month’s guest-blogger is Lisa Honigfeld. Honigfeld is Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI) and lead author of a new report “The Earlier the Better: Developmental Screening for Connecticut’s Young Children.” The report reviews current research on the value of early detection of delays, examines screening as an effective strategy, and outlines valid available screening tools and their implementation across Connecticut. CHDI works to advance policy, system, program, and practice change that will result in better health, mental health and developmental outcomes for children in Connecticut.CHDI is a member organization of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a statewide advocacy organization working to ensure that all children are healthy, safe and ready for lifelong success. Visit us at earlychildhoodalliance.com, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ctearlychildhoodalliance or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cteca. The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is supported by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, the Fairfield County Community Foundation and our member organizations, such as CHDI.