We designed the Early Childhood Connections Pilot Program to help doctors identify developmental and behavioral problems in children up to age five and connect their families to the services they need.
The program evolved from the findings of the 2007 report, Addressing Children’s Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health in Erie and Niagara Counties, which identified that young children were not routinely screened for developmental or behavioral issues, which meant that limited attention was paid to prevention or early intervention efforts.
Through Early Childhood Connections, six primary care practices in Erie and Niagara County screened children under the age of five for potential developmental and behavioral issues using the PEDS screening tool (Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status), a simple, quick and validated screening tool.
The primary care practices then assisted medical staff and families locate and access existing services. The coordinator also provided information to help families overcome barriers to accessing services, and communicated with primary care providers to make them aware of the services children in their care received.
The information and data gathered through this program helped to expand our understanding of the needs of children and families in our communities, and identified gaps in services. With the help of grant and technical assistance from the Kellogg Foundation and us, the Early Childhood Connections program transitioned into Help Me Grow Western New York.