Since 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that assessment for developmental problems among young children be incorporated into every preventive health visit and that formal screening occur at regular intervals, including the 9-, 18-, and either 24- or 30-month well-child visits.1 According to data from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, only 30.8 percent of children ages 10-60 months were screened for developmental, behavioral and social delays using a parent-reported standardized screening tool during a health care visit. 2
Developmental screening is critical to the early identification of developmental delays and the provision of early intervention services and treatments that have the capacity to change both short- and long-term developmental trajectories of children who may be experiencing such delays or have a developmental disability. The importance of timely developmental screening is underscored by its inclusion as a national objective for Maternal, Infant, and Child Health in Healthy People 2020.3
Common challenges contributing to low state developmental screening rates experienced by states are a lack of coordination between state level screening efforts, key stakeholders and supporters that can influence policy on advisory panels, available data that can drive and support policy changes in these areas, and meaningful cross agency partnerships and intentional collaboration.4
1. “American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Children With Disabilities, Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Bright Futures Steering Committee and Medical Home Initiatives for Children With Special Needs. Identifying infants and young children with developmental disorders in the medical home: an algorithm for developmental surveillance and screening.” Pediatrics. 2006. 118 (1):405–420. Correction in Pediatrics. 2006. 118 (4):1808–1809.
2. “National Survey of Children’s Health.” Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health. 2012. Retrieved from https://childhealthdata.org/learn/NSCH
3. “Healthy People 2020 Maternal, Infant, and Child Health Objective 20.1: Recommendations for Increase the proportion of children (aged 10–35 months) who have been screened for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental delays.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2014.
4. Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs. Resources for Title V Action Planning: Developmental Screening Strategies and Measures (2015). http://www.amchp.org/programsandtopics/CYSHCN/projects/spharc/LearningModule/Documents/TITLEV-ACTIONPLANNING_NPM6_STRATEGIES_MEASURES.pdf