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Screening and Evaluation
in Early Childhood

Parents are the most important source of information about a child’s development. When there are concerns for a young child’s development, parents take the lead.

Steps in Screening and Evaluation

When there are concerns for a child’s growth and progress, parents can take steps to check a child’s early development. There are a few tools used to learn more about a child’s strengths and areas that may need support. A screening measure may be used to find out if a child’s development is on schedule for their age – or if they are at risk for delay. Results of the screening may show that more evaluation is needed. Parent concerns and the results of evaluation determine if early intervention services or therapies are needed for a child.

Early screening and support help children enter Kindergarten ready to learn.

Parent Concerns?

  1. 1. Call Check your child’s progress. Call your Early Intervention Provider.
  2. 2. Get Screened Child is screened or evaluated. Results show OK or support needed.
  3. 3. Service Plan If child is at risk, discuss service plan.
  4. 4. Accept Services Child gets therapies or treatment to support early development.

What are the Steps?

Any parent, any time can call their early intervention provider if there are concerns about their child’s progress. Screening, Evaluation and Services, if needed, are no cost to all families.

All steps in the evaluation process are made with parent’s knowledge and signed consent.

  1. Parent or primary caregiver calls their Early Intervention Provider to schedule a screening or evaluation.
  2. Parent, together with child, meet with a specialist and answer questions about what a child can do and how a child interacts with people he or she knows. Child is screened or evaluated. Parent shares any concerns about their child’s health or progress. This takes place in the child’s home, at the child’s day care or at the early intervention provider’s office.
  3. The specialist reviews the results of the evaluation together with the parent or caregiver. When results show that a child needs services or therapies to support their progress, the specialist writes a plan for the services. This plan (Individual Family Service Plan or Individual Education Plan) is reviewed together with the parent. The parent can let the specialist know if family work schedules, transportation or other concerns should be considered.
  4. Parent accepts the services plan. The child’s schedule of services may include a special pre-K classroom, therapies such as speech or physical therapy, and activities to do at home. The specialist may also want to work with a child’s health care provider if there are medical or health concerns.

Steps May Repeat in a Cycle – Follow-Up is Important

Early Development does not always take place evenly as a child grows. There may be dips in learning or progress between the ages of birth to school age for many reasons. Parents can re-check their child's development at any time during the ages of birth to 6 years.

  • Sometimes a child needs support but services are not yet available.
  • Sometimes a child gets services for a while when they are 1 month to 3 years old and then needs services again when they are 3 to 5 years old.

If there are concerns for a child but services are not offered at the time of evaluation, parents can ask to re-screen and evaluate again, 6 months later.

Parents can talk with their health care provider and ask about community supports to help them with their child's learning and needs. A child's day care provider or teacher may also be able to suggest community resources. Different resources may be needed as a child grows.

Parents take the lead. When a child is receiving services, parents can ask for an update on their child's progress. When the child is a little older, they can request another evaluation to see if new or different services are needed.