Well-Child Visits and Screenings: Earlier Is Better
neural connections are formed in a child’s brain every second
One million. That’s the staggering number of neural connections that are formed per second in a child’s brain during his or her first few years.
The development of a child’s brain – and his or her accompanying developmental milestones – is a remarkable and profoundly significant process. Increasingly, research is shedding an ever-brighter light on the importance of both developmental surveillance and screening in children from birth to 5 years old.
Developmental delays or disorders, including speech delays, vision or hearing impairment and learning disorders, as well as disorders like autism, are often not identified until children are already in school, meaning several important years have already passed without early intervention, resources or family support. And yet, we know that when such delays are identified and addressed early, the results are improved for the child and the costs are lower for the system of care.
That’s why one of our primary areas of focus is early identification and intervention through developmental and behavioral screening, support, and treatment for our youngest children.
Developmental delays impact one in every six very young children
children under the age of 3 have a developmental delay
Well-child visits provide an opportunity to track growth and development (e.g., developmental screenings to gauge milestones, social behaviors, and learning); discuss concerns about a child’s health; and receive screenings and scheduled vaccinations to prevent illnesses.
Ensuring that children complete their well-child visits is crucial to supporting children on the path to good health and setting them up to be successful in life.
There is still much work to be done to improve system coordination and make sure every child gets critical linkages to services. Additional work can be done to better share results and data within and across systems such as healthcare and education. By sharing important information across systems, a child’s full range of needs can be better and more seamlessly addressed.
First 5’s Action Plan
Well-child visits, screenings and linkage to services play critically important roles in helping to achieve our vision that, “All children reach their full potential.” Partnering with our community stakeholders, we are making these visits and linkages a five-year priority goal, and helping families get the most of well-child visits and screenings by taking the following actions:
Leveraging data to prioritize needs, and with partners, setting a community target for the completion of well-child visits among the Medi-Cal population. This includes identifying and removing barriers that prevent families from accessing these services.
Ensuring well-child visits, linkage to health homes, and screenings are included in some form in all First 5-funded partner scopes of work.
Integrating family voices and empowering families to participate in discussion and decision-making about well-child visits, screenings, and interventions.
Promoting the earliest possible screenings and linkage to services by broadening and improving messaging to parents and other providers about the importance of well-child visits and screenings.
Expanding the use of the OC Children’s Screening Registry.
Continuing to advocate for continuous Medi-Cal enrollment for children through their 5th birthday.
Detect & Connect OC
First 5 Orange County is a founding member of Detect & Connect OC, which is a collaboration of organizations working on the critical issues of increasing well-child visits, early identification of developmental delays, and intervention.
Our vision is to ensure all children in Orange County receive timely, recommended developmental screenings in accordance with national, evidence-based guidelines, and are connected to resources and interventions as early as possible.
Detect & Connect OC has five foundational principles:
Focus on a Targeted Population to Start
Engage Physicians Early
Provide Adequate Training, Technical Assistance, Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement for Providers
Simplify Inter-Agency Coordination
Identify and Coordinate Systems-Level Champions
- American Academy of Pediatrics – Orange County Chapter
- Anaheim Elementary School District
- CHOC Children’s
- Child Guidance Center
- Comfort Connection, Regional Center of Orange County
- Early Childhood OC
- First 5 Orange County
- Help Me Grow Orange County
- Orange County Department of Education
- Orange County Health Care Agency
- Orange County Social Services Administration
- Pretend City
- Santa Ana Unified School District
- State Council on Developmental Disabilities, Orange County Office
Detect & Connect OC has a steering group and four working groups to advance our vision:
- Actively champion a shared vision
- Work together and build linkages with community partners to remove system barriers
- Commit to the effective use of resources and programs in the community
- Focus on parents and primary care physicians
Data Sharing & Technology Working Group
Prioritize and execute opportunities to increase data sharing across systems
Systems of Care Working Group
Work with community partners to identify and develop strategies to link more children to support and address gaps within the system of care
Provider Support Working Group
Support pediatric and family practice providers with implementation of screenings, and align provider/member incentives to reimbursement and incentive opportunities
Shared Messaging & Education Working Group
Disseminate shared messages and targeted provider and parent outreach