Early Childhood Screening

Early Childhood Screening

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Why Is This Important?

The early childhood years from birth to the start of kindergarten are an important time of rapid learning and growth. Screening is a brief, simple procedure used to identify potential health or developmental problems in infants and young children who may need a health assessment, diagnostic assessment or educational evaluation. Screening in early childhood promotes health and development.

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What We Do

The Vermont Department of Health promotes Vermont's system of Universal Developmental Screening, through education, outreach, and family engagement in early care and education settings, medical homes, and other community partners such as Children's Int grated Services.

Help Me Grow Vermont (HMG VT) is a comprehensive, statewide system that ensures that early detection leads to the linkage of young children and their families to community resources and services through a centralized contact/call center and no-wrong-door approach. Under HMG VT Provider Outreach, the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP) conducts training and on-site coaching to both child health providers and early educators on developmental monitoring, screening, and linkage to developmental resources and services.

To meet the goal of universal developmental screening for all Vermont children and to ensure coordination of screening and services between health and early education/social service providers, Vermont is rolling out a Developmental Screening Registry. The ability to provide surveillance of this nature contributes to quality improvement efforts already underway to ensure early detection and early intervention. Results of developmental screen conducted on Vermont children are collected and stored in a central repository. This repository will be available to health care providers, early care and education providers, and home visitors to view results on individual children, as well as practice-level reports.

Additional strategies include embedding developmental monitoring tools and resources in early childhood settings using CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program materials that teach parents to track their child's developmental milestones as a compliment to formal screening. We have implemented the Mid-Level Developmental Assessment (MLDA) model for high quality, easily accessible developmental assessment of children.

The Vermont Child Development Clinics (CDC) are a statewide multidisciplinary developmental pediatrics clinical program held periodically in all 12 regions across the state, to provide comprehensive, diagnostic, developmental evaluations to Vermont children who have concerns about their development.

Who We Serve

All Vermont's young children and their families.

How We Impact

Developmental screening is an essential population health indicator; screening reaches vulnerable populations (children who are living in poverty, culturally and linguistically diverse, etc.). Surveillance and screening promote public awareness of typical child development and advance early identification of children at risk for developmental or behavioral delays and disorders which is critical to the well-being of children and their families.

Both developmental surveillance and developmental screening should be done for all young children. Developmental surveillance is an ongoing, longitudinal, cumulative process of recognizing children who may be at risk for developmental delay. Developmental screening is the use of brief and objective standardized tools to identify children at risk for developmental delay and the need for referral for evaluation. It is a formal process that occurs at defined intervals according to national standards, at points of entry into services and any time a child is identified to be at risk through surveillance.

Early and appropriate screening can identify children with behavioral and developmental concerns who need a more comprehensive evaluation and linkage to developmental resources and services. Timely evaluation and follow up can identify concerns that can be addressed early in the child’s development, leading to better long term outcomes for the child.

Hearing
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What We Do

The Vermont Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Program (VTEHDI) works with hospitals and other community providers, such as early head start, homebirth midwives and primary care professionals to provide newborn and early periodic hearing screenings. The program provides support, training, and care management to families and their babies, and to community providers. These partnerships ensure timely referrals for diagnostic testing and early intervention services.

As part of Children with Special Health Needs, VTEHDI provides support, training, and care management for families and their babies, hospitals, and community providers. VTEHDI works with state and national agencies and organizations to achieve the National EHDI goals.

All babies born in Vermont are offered a newborn hearing screening by their birth facility or midwife. Hearing screenings are available for newborns that did not have a newborn hearing screening or did not pass the first screening at all Vermont birthing hospitals, pediatric audiology practices, some primary care practices and by midwives. Hearing screening results are sent to VTEHDI by hospitals, midwives, primary care providers and audiologists. These providers also send high-risk information on each baby related to late onset hearing loss. VTEHDI provides families and providers follow-up recommendations for on-going hearing health care based on identified risk factors.

Who We Serve

All Vermont newborns and their families.

How We Impact

Newborn hearing screening focuses on identifying hearing loss early. Catching problems sooner rather than later can make a big difference in a child's development. Studies have shown that important language skills are learned before the age of 3 because hearing and learning language are closely tied together.

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