Sprouts Child Development Initiative began in 1991 as the LINK Project, a developmental screening program administered through Children’s Medical Center in Tulsa. LINK’s primary goal was to identify children in child care who might need early intervention services to address specific developmental concerns before they entered school. In 2006, LINK moved under the umbrella of the Community Service Council (CSC) as a program of its Child Care Resource Center.
During the next several years LINK became so successful in identifying needs and connecting families to help that demand for its services grew quickly. There was a three-year waiting list for centers, physicians’ referrals increased, and requests from schools and other early childhood programs were rising dramatically.
Clearly a new model with greater capacity to reach more young children and their caregivers was needed. In 2014, the LINK team of developmental clinicians, along with several pediatricians and other community partners began looking for a new approach. After several months of discussion and a national search, one was found. Modeled after a successful program in Michigan, the Sprouts Child Development Initiative (Sprouts) was created.
The initiative was based on a child development resource website built around an online developmental screening tool, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). The site expanded the capacity to engage caregivers in learning themselves about the developmental needs of their young children, and the specific steps to address them. This included conducting a screening using the online ASQ-3 and ASQ-SE2 and interfacing with the Sprouts developmental team to assist in identifying developmental issues and obtaining follow-up assistance.
In 2016, to best focus on organizing this enhanced capacity, Sprouts moved out from under the umbrella of the CSC and became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The Sprouts service model historically focused on supporting each child through screening and assessment, with referral to therapy providers in the community for early intervention. Over time it became apparent, for several reasons, that many children did not obtain the early intervention services recommended. Therefore, in November 2018, the Sprouts Board of Directors and Staff made the decision, for sustainability and continuity of care, to pursue adding speech and occupational therapy treatment services and to partner with a Developmental Pediatrician to add enhanced clinical services. Sprouts began providing all of these services in late 2019.
Sprouts is also honored to collaborate with a growing network of community partners to collectively expand access to early screening and intervention for children.