Early Intervention is a family-focused service for children from birth to age three showing signs of a developmental delay in cognitive, physical, language, social or emotional skills.
Why should you monitor a child's development?
Monitoring a child’s development is the best way to see if they are on track. Consistently tracking developmental milestones, monitoring social interactions, language and physical movements will ensure a child meets important milestones and gains vital developmental skills.
What's the difference between developmental monitoring and developmental screening?
Developmental monitoring is an ongoing process beginning at birth and continuing as a child grows and learns new things. While there are tools and resources for families to monitor their child’s development, no formal training is needed. Tools are very family friendly and can be used at any time. Developmental milestones are tracked and possible delays in development can be identified. The CDC offers free milestone checklists in many languages.
Developmental screening is a formal assessment using a confirmed screening tool performed usually by a health care professional or teachers who have been trained. Screenings are designed to take a closer look at how the child is developing and make sure everything is on track. If any concerns are noted, the child can be referred for further evaluation. An example of a common screener in Kentucky is Ages and Stages Questionnaires.
What signs do you look for and when should you seek support?
When consistently monitoring development, you should be looking at the milestones a child should reach based on age. Take notice if a child begins missing milestones or not learning skills developmentally appropriate for their age. If a child is not meeting milestones, this could be a sign of a delay. Monitor and document your concerns and if no progress is made or behaviors increase, it may be time to seek additional support.
Steps child care providers can take if there are concerns about a child
When you have concerns about a child's development:
- Observe and write what is happening in the classroom. Use trustworthy developmental monitoring checklists. Document and track occurrences over a period of time.
- Speak with your supervisor. Share your concerns and develop a plan to speak with the child’s parent/guardian
- Share concerns with the child's family. Share what you have noticed about the child’s development. Use observations and developmental checklists to support your concerns.
- Encourage the parent/guardian to speak with their child’s pediatrician about developmental concerns.
- Childcare providers also should provide the family with resources about referring their child for further assessment through Kentucky’s Early Intervention Program. Anyone can refer a child to First Steps. If a family asks for further support from the childcare center, you can make the referral for them.