Every child learns and grows in a different way and at a different time. For parents and caregivers, it can be difficult to know if their child is developing normally. Developmental screenings, which identify strengths and delays in a child’s development and addresses them early, are critically important to the health and learning of young children. Sometimes children need a boost to maximize their potential – one that can be provided if a screening is performed. Research emphasizes that the earlier a delay is identified, the better the outcome for the child.
Early childhood and health leaders in Grand County noticed that developmental screening and referral rates for young children did not meet national standards. Grand Beginnings, which serves as the Grand and Jackson Early Childhood Council, and community health leaders came together to find a solution to ensure that all young children within the community had the opportunity to experience optimal development. With support from the Colorado Trust, they launched the Meeting Milestones Initiative (MMI).
The Meeting Milestones Initiative grew out of these early partnerships and became a formal collaboration between Grand Beginnings, Grand County Rural Health Network, Assuring Better Child Health and Development, Horizons Specialized Services, and Patient Tools, Inc. MMI also included cross-sector partners from all early care and education programs and all primary care providers in Grand and Jackson counties.
From community discussions, local partners began to implement universal developmental screening for all young children—which entailed the use of a standard and valid screening tool among all professionals, consistent referrals to appropriate services and follow up for families, coordination among screening sites to reduce duplicative or inappropriate referrals, and common language among professionals and families to increase mutual understanding and awareness.
Now the seventh year, MMI is helping young children and their families flourish when developmental concerns are identified early and they receive the support and services they need. Today, 98% of young children in Grand and Jackson counties receive an appropriate developmental screening. Children with a developmental concern receive timely and appropriate referrals and follow up to intervention services.
The Grand and Jackson Early Childhood Council has seen a significant shift in the culture and common language surrounding the importance of developmental screening and child development, which has been transformative for the community.
Learn more about Grand Beginnings and the Grand and Jackson Early Childhood Council work to support young children and their families.