Proposal to Expand Developmental Screenings Would Mean More Children Getting Early Attention

May 21st, 2021

Category: Early Childhood Education

Babies aren’t born with instructions. Thankfully, developmental screenings help parents and families understand key milestones in their young children’s lives. Screenings tell us what young children should―and should not―be able to do by a certain age, and provide clues on whether a child might need special intervention or resources.

Four years ago, the Delaware Readiness Teams spearheaded the first centralized statewide developmental screening online resource, providing a comprehensive rundown of all known developmental screening tools in one location and providing access to a free community-screening tool. Not only did DRTs respond to the communities they serve, they also played a role in inspiring local districts to offer screening tools.

Today, lawmakers are leading the next stage of this state innovation.

House Bill 202 is designed to scale developmental screenings even further by requiring all licensed Delaware child care facilities to provide them to all enrolled children.

Why is screening so important? Developmental screening offers a snapshot of a child’s abilities in language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions. It gauges if the child is learning these basic skills when they should, or if there may be a developmental delay.

It’s important to identify children with delays or disabilities in the critical early years, before they start school, in order to connect them with early intervention services to which they are entitled. Often, these services help address issues before kindergarten and prevent expensive special education services in K-12 education.

The state is required by the federal IDEA law to seek out children who may be facing delays and to serve them, so this effort will extend the state’s efforts to reach those children. And, by screening all children in child care, child care providers will gain valuable insights into how to better care for and educate young children.

Research shows that children who qualify and receive intervention services are more likely to be successful readers, less likely to continue needing special education services later in life, more likely to have improved social skills, and are more likely to graduate from high school. Needless to say, Delaware Readiness Teams, who helped turn developmental screenings into a household name, are supporting the act. Learn more from the DRTs about screening.

Author:
Matt Amis

mamis@rodelde.org