Administration for Children and Families: Screening Helps Young Children Say, “Watch Me Thrive!”

By Christine Johnson-Staub

This week, the federal Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!, an initiative to provide pediatricians and community-based service providers with the tools and information they need to promote developmental and behavioral screening for all children.

Early and regular access to comprehensive developmental and behavioral screening for children can help identify concerns, connect children and families to needed services, and ensure that children develop in a healthy way. Despite federal guidance and requirements established in Medicaid policy and under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), state policies have fallen short of ensuring  that all young children have access to age-appropriate screenings.

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! includes:

  • A compendium of well-designed, research-based screening tools appropriate for use with young children;
  • User’s Guides for the full range of medical and community-based professionals who work with young children, including child care and early education providers; and
  • Electronic resources to help raise public awareness about developmental screening and support providers and families.

To help children and families  easily access important developmental services, communities must work together to offer screenings in both medical and community settings and ensure that families, physicians, and community-based providers—including those that operate child care and early education programscommunicate results and coordinate necessary follow-up services.