Options & Advocacy, Child & Family Connections
Phone: (815) 477-4720 ext. 227
McHenry County Developmental Screening Program
McHenry County is located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and offers an exciting, diverse and family-friendly environment. The county has one of the fastest-growing manufacturing sectors in the region and has seen a 7% growth in population of children from birth to five years. In 2012, the population was 307,409 with 5.9% being children birth to 5 years old. Woodstock, the county seat, was the site of filming for the popular movie Groundhog Day. And very much like the movie, the community consists of welcoming, family-friendly events and attractions. McHenry County communities offer year-round recreational activities, with over 20,000 acres of conservation land, as well as all, or part of, three state parks. Several communities offer charming downtown districts with specialty shopping, farmer’s markets, unique shops and a variety of dining options.
In early 2012, Illinois Action for Children, 4-C: Community Coordinated Child Care, and a local consultant, with the support of a Building Blocks grant through the Grand Victoria Foundation, conducted a countywide Needs Assessment. This effort brought together individuals from the social service, business, education, child care and medical sectors. The results of the assessment served as the foundation for guiding our work in developing a community-wide developmental screening program.
Two key partners established a developmental screening program for the county through training and public awareness activities designed to increase early identification of developmental delays. Identifying developmental delays early in life increases opportunities for early intervention. Children who receive necessary supports early in life increase their ability to be better prepared for school. As we worked towards developing this comprehensive screening system, we utilized the strong collaboration through the Local Interagency Council (LIC) to begin this work. Through further investigation, we reviewed the AOK framework and saw that their goals fell in line with what we envisioned for McHenry County. In January 2013, we merged the LIC and AOK into one cohesive collaborative.
The McHenry County AOK Network decided not only to focus on promoting early identification, but also to increase the awareness of the role early child care providers play in screening for developmental delays and subsequently referring families for services. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire: 3rd Edition (ASQ-3) was identified as a common, universal screening tool. Two sites were identified to pilot this effort in two diverse areas within the county. Over time, we were able to obtain an additional grant to purchase twenty ASQ-3 kits. These kits were awarded to 16 different child care centers/preschools and four family child care providers. Training has occurred in all of these sites along with additional sites who purchased their own kits.
The McHenry County Developmental Screening Program has a couple of key components that set us apart. All children are screened by both their parents and the primary child care provider. Following the compilation of the scores and discussion with the family about the results, every family receives the completed ASQ-3 tools back for their records and are encouraged to share the results with their pediatrician. The child care facility maintains a copy of the master scoring page, in order to identify any trends with children as they continue to complete the ASQ-3 every six months. Following each screening and follow-up conference with parents, all families receive information on developmental milestones as well as age appropriate activities that they can do with their child. As a result of the success of this project, both Early Intervention and Early Childhood education programs have received referrals based on these screenings.
The next steps for the McHenry County AOK Network include the initiation of a pilot screening program in a local school district, as well as collaboration with AOK Network partners to host screenings at therapy centers, health fairs and libraries throughout the community. Increasing the awareness of the importance of developmental screenings and where these valuable opportunities are available contribute to the growth and development of All Our Kids.
What resources are necessary to replicate this approach?
- A Network or collaborative partners who share resources;
- Staff time and trainings to child care centers who are willing to participate in the developmental screening program;
- Development of consistent follow-up procedures and referral protocols; and
- A funding source to assist centers and child care providers in the purchase of a common, universal screening tool.