December 27, 2012 — Two new studies from PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia examine the effectiveness and feasibility of standardized developmental screening carried out in a primary care practice.
The first study showed that, given sufficient tools and training, standardized developmental screening is feasible and effective in a busy urban pediatric office, without the need to increase office staff. Patients with developmental delays were identified earlier and more often when these screenings were provided. However, standardized screening alone did not ensure children with identified developmental delays were connected with Early Intervention services.
The second study examined barriers to families completing the Early Intervention (EI) referral process. These included communication problems between parents and providers; parents’ wanting to “wait and see” about developmental issues, and/or wanting to work with the child themselves to aid in development. Practical obstacles to accessing services were also a factor — parents had to be highly motivated to make it through the referral process. Finally, there was a perception among EI staff that families avoid evaluation because they mistake EI for child protective services.
Together, these complementary studies are instructive to both pediatricians and Early Intervention staff to ensure children with the greatest need are accessing the developmental supports that will lead to greater success into their school years and adulthood.