Smart Start of Forsyth County, Inc. (SSFC) is expanding early childhood developmental screenings in a seven-county area, including Forsyth County.
SSFC has been awarded almost $200,000 from the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., in Raleigh to implement an evidenced-based screening program for children birth to five-years-old in cooperation with Northwest Community Care Network, Inc. (NCCN) of Winston-Salem and local pediatric practices throughout Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin Counties.
Assuring Better Childhood Health and Development (ABCD) will be used. It is a proven, universal approach to screening young children in primary health care settings. The ABCD program increases the rates of developmental screening and referral rates for young children within the medical home by integrating routine developmental screening into well-child visits using a validated tool such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) or the Parents Evaluation of Developmental Skills (PEDS). Through the program, medical professionals also receive training to use the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT) and to refer children needing follow-up to appropriate community services.
Many children with developmental problems are not identified as early as possible, thus, delaying necessary interventions and treatments. National estimates report that approximately 16 percent of all children have developmental delays and that only about 30 percent of those delays are discovered before school entry. In 2011-12, approximately five percent (35,330) of North Carolina’s young children birth to five years were receiving early intervention services through the publicly funded early intervention system. Unfortunately, this leaves approximately 11 percent, or over 77,000 children, without these needed services.
“The ABCD program undoubtedly will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of children and families in our communities,” said Smart Start of Forsyth County Executive Director Larry Vellani.
Jim Graham, NCCN executive director, added, “We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with Smart Start of Forsyth County and look forward to doing all that we can to make this program a success throughout our entire seven-county Community Care Network region.”