With a new initiative, the Obama administration is looking to expand developmental and behavioral screening for children across the country.
The effort known as “Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!” will engage educators, doctors, child care providers and other experts in local communities to encourage universal screening for kids and help families celebrate important milestones like a child’s first words or steps, officials said.
“With as many as one in four children at risk for a social delay or developmental disability, it’s critical to get screening resources in the hands of the adults who love, work and care for young children,” said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “This screening initiative will help identify warning signs early so that more children get the support they need as soon as possible.”
The joint effort from Sebelius’s agency and the U.S. Department of Education will offer information on research-based screening tools, guidance for professionals, a chart for families to track their child’s progress and tips for finding local resources.
Research shows that intervention is often most effective the earlier it begins in a child’s life. Screening is the first step toward getting assistance for kids who need it.
The announcement of “Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!” comes on the heels of new data suggesting that autism is more common than previously thought. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that 1 in 68 American children have the developmental disorder.