Early diagnosis is crucial, but identification without meaningful access to services is an empty effort.
The evidence supporting early identification and intervention to address the needs of young children with developmental delays is clear and unequivocal. Early intervention can have a profound impact on the quality of life for children and their families; the key to success is early screening, detection and treatment. Absent these vital services, children frequently enter school requiring more intensive and costly support, and generally never catch up to their peers.
Nationally Easter Seals estimates, of the five million children under age five at risk for developmental delay, only one million or 20% are identified and receive needed early intervention services prior to beginning school. Generally, only those with the highest need, who meet federal IDEA or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act criteria (a 25% delay in two or more areas or a 50% delay in one area), receive services through their local school system.
Sprouts Child Development’s model is focused on ensuring the needs of each child and their family are met, long term. We are unique in that our program does not rely on government criteria or funding to see a child. The point of entry into our program is the online Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) screening. Based upon screening results, if there are any concerns, the Sprouts team of highly skilled developmental specialists is available to then provide the next level of assessment, and uses those results to work closely with the family and their physician to find the best option for services in the community.
As a nonprofit, Sprouts is UNIQUE. We offer developmental and speech screening and assessment, but refer to the community for intervention services. Our focus is to help ALL families find services that best fit their child’s need.
Based on screening results, the Sprouts team may provide the next level of assessment and help connect families to services.
We continually educate the broader community about the importance of early screening and intervention by making the ASQ screening link open to the general public. We’re building a larger long-term public health capacity by developing new partnerships to provide screenings which currently includes work with case managers, nurse-family partnerships, home visiting programs, churches, public and private schools, therapeutic court programs, childcare centers, physicians’ offices, and many others.
The Sprouts Child Development website and social media sites provide targeted and actionable child development education and resources for families and caregivers. We offer resources to help anyone who has, or works with, young children to identify and learn what developmental skills and milestones a child should be mastering at certain times, and corresponding activities they can engage in with the child to promote those skills. For example, our Early Literacy Videos focus on helping parents and caregivers recognize everyday early childhood actions and behaviors that are tied to early literacy. It isn’t hard to understand why, before viewing our videos, a parent may not realize that the fine motor skills developed by an eight-month-old picking up a Cheerio, are setting the stage for learning to write just a few years later.