Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Washington Looks to Help Kids Grow

Washington has incorporated a new resource for families called "Help Me Grow." This is a national network that helps states implement state-wide planning and implementation of behavioral and developmental screenings. Twenty-three states are currently affiliates.

Between 12 and 16 percent of all American children experience developmental, behavioral and/or emotional delays or problems. In Washington, 1 in 6 children face a delay by age 18--50 percent of children with a delay are not identified before school.* Experts and the Washington State Department of Early Learning agree that early detection and connection to services lead to the best outcomes for children with such challenges.

"Help Me Grow" provides:

  • Child health care provider outreach
  • Community outreach
  • Centralized telephone access points to connect families to services
  • Data collection

What does Help Me Grow Washington offer families?

  • Free developmental screening for all kids under 5 (no waiting lists or income requirements)
  • Activities and games that support healthy growth and learning
  • Community resources like parenting classes, medical clinics, and food banks
  • Referrals for further evaluation and early intervention services

How Can Developmental Screening Help My Child?

Often, the signs are hard to see, even for a professional. Screening all kids regularly is the best way to catch delays early, when intervention is most effective. Even for families with kids developing on track, screening is a fast, flexible and fun way to learn about what’s coming next and what you can do to encourage healthy growth!

The Ages and Stages Questionnaire

To screen kids Help Me Grow Washington uses a survey tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). This tool can be accessed easily online by clicking the link above. Developmental screening cannot give you a diagnosis; however it can show you if your child is developing more slowly than kids in the same age group.

The ASQ covers 5 areas of development:

  • Communication – how kids use language
  • Gross Motor – how kids move their bodies
  • Fine Motor – how kids use their hands
  • Problem Solving – how kids interact with their world
  • Personal-Social – how kids calm themselves down
When using the ASQ:  Based on your child’s age, you will be asked about your child’s ability to complete certain activities, such as “Can your child stand on one foot?” When you’ve tried each of the items with your child, submit your answers online. The expert staff will score the ASQ and contact you with results within one week. They will also give you suggestions for games and activities to do with your child to practice emerging skills. They will send another screen every 3-6 months, so you can continue to learn about and support your child’s growth.

If you have questions or want to learn more about it first, please call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

*Citations for this article are courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health. For more information regarding developmental delay statistics, please click here: Screening Brief. Other data is courtesy of WithinReach's ParentHelp123.

For more information about DEL's role in developmental screening, check out the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers page at del.wa.gov. 

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