Summer 2014 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Screening To Assess Development and Behavior

Screening  To Assess  Development and Behavior


Screening young children’s development and behavior should be routine. Screening identifies children who need further evaluation to see if they have a problem. With early identification, children can receive services when they benefit the most from them.

Take a look at the new program Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! Federal health and education officials developed the program with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The website has extensive online resources with practical suggestions. Go to

The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! Program will help families and providers:

  1. Celebrate developmental milestones
  2. Promote universal screening
  3. Identify possible delays and concerns early
  4. Support healthy child development

After reading the overview of the program, select the section which describes your role. The choices are early childhood education (ECE) provider, home visitor, families, early intervention service/early childhood special education provider, child welfare, primary care provider, behavioral health provider, housing and homeless shelter provider, and community.
The ECE provider’s section has good tips for “Talking to Families after an “at risk” screening result”. Here are some of the tips:

  • Remind parents/guardians that screening does not give a diagnosis. An “at risk” screening simply indicates the child needs a more thorough evaluation.
  • If screening identifies a concern, both a health care professional and an early intervention specialist should evaluate the child. Connect the family with their child’s health care professional for further evaluation. This health care professional may refer the child to a pediatrician, a family physician or nurse clinician with special training to address the concern. Refer the child to the local early intervention service program. For children less than 3 years of age, this may be a separate agency. For children 3 to 5 years of age, contact the child’s neighborhood public school to connect with the early intervention service. In Pennsylvania, to help parents/guardians make an appointment for early intervention evaluation, call 1-800-CONNECT.
  • Work with families to create a list of questions to ask the pediatrician and early intervention specialist as a result of the screening.

Contributed by Beth DelConte, MD, FAAP – ECELS Pediatric Advisor