Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Partnering to Identify Children With Special Needs

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's long-standing partnership with the Colorado’s Assuring Better Child Health and Development Project is expanding. Specifically, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (COPHE) has identified improving developmental and social/emotional screening and referral rates for all children birth to age 5 as a 2011-2015 priority.

Rachel Hutson, Director of the Prevention Services Division's Children and Youth Branch, said, “Our priority is to expedite identification of children with needs and giving them and their families quicker access to available health services in Colorado. To achieve this, we are partnering to build the first-ever regional outreach network with local communities to develop a coordinated system of care regarding childhood screening, referral and follow-up." By working with the Assuring Better Child Health and Development Project and with local public health providers, the end goal is to move screening rate in pediatric practices from 70 percent to 93 percent by October 1, 2013.

Eileen Auer Bennett, State Project Coordinator for Assuring Better Child Health and Development Project, said, “Since the outset of our project, our work has evolved from initially focusing on standardizing screening tools to, now, facilitating early identification and referral at the community level." The move from standardizing screening tools to building a statewide network to enhance screening, referral and follow-up is a natural next step. In order to have an efficient and effective screening and referral process, the information being recorded and analyzed to make referral and follow-up decisions must be commonly understood. Since 2009, the project has largely established the basic tools, procedures and best practices for developmental and social/emotional screening. Now, the project aims to help take that data and coordinate its dissemination and evaluation in a recognized, statewide system.

The Colorado Health Foundation and the Kaiser Community Benefits Foundation have provided grant funding to enhance the community outreach network in Colorado and thereby connect identified children with needed services.

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