Health Manager Orientation Guide

Developmental Screenings

Children’s development should be observed, or checked, regularly. Head Start programs are the perfect opportunity to complete these needed assessments. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental screening using a standardized tool when a child is 9 months old, 18 months old, and 24 or 30 months old, or more often if needed. Screening is recommended at specific ages, but it should be done at any age there is a concern about a child’s development. HSPPS 45 CFR §1302.33 says that a program must complete, or get the results of, a current developmental screening to identify concerns about a child’s developmental, behavioral, motor, language, social, cognitive, and emotional skills.

In many Head Start programs, the disabilities manager or education manager may lead the developmental screening process. Health managers can help by working with them to complete the screening assessments and by letting families know about the screening process and results.

Tips and Strategies for Developmental Screenings

  • Make sure the program is using evidence-based, standardized developmental screening tools that are designed as a short test to find out if the child needs more in-depth evaluation.
  • Get information about the child’s development from family members, teachers, and other staff who know the child well.
  • Make sure you have written parental consent before starting the screening.
  • Ask for consent for the screening in the parent’s home language and let them know the results in that language.
  • Use a screening tool that considers the child’s culture. When a culturally appropriate screening tool is not available, asking families about their child’s typical behavior is even more important.
  • Create a policy for developmental screenings and procedures based on the children and families in your program, screening tools, HSAC recommendations, and other factors.

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