Step 6: Prepare Parent Education and Community Connections
Parent Education: Why It Matters and What’s Available
You’ve decided and planned to implement a developmental screen, and even have a referral process ready to go. However, the screening flow isn’t complete without planning how to provide parental education about their child’s development.
Child development happens in the context of caregiver relationships. Therefore, it is imperative to empower the parent as the main factor in child development. Your role as a trusted and consistent access point to parents can be used to educate them on what to expect during as their child grows and how to promote and celebrate milestones. Parental knowledge of child development is even a “protective factor” that is cited as having an evidence base for improving parenting skills and buffering adversity. Additionally, parents need to see the doctor’s visit as a place to raise questions and concerns about their child’s development. By discussing development with parents and connecting them with education and resources, you are improving the quality of care you provide to all of your families. Patient education is also an important component of the Medical Home (PCMH) along with documented distribution of patient education materials so this can help you achieve and sustain your PCMH efforts.
You can address parents by providing educational materials and creating and sharing a community resource guide.
There are numerous, evidence-based materials available to use with the families you serve. Some good examples include
- Zero to Three: Resources for parents and professionals, including newsletters with helpful materials like instructional articles and videos on such things as Social Emotional Development and dealing with challenging behavior
- Birth to Five, Watch Me Thrive!: Information on developmental screening for early care and education providers, families, and primary care providers. In addition to training manuals for professionals, we love the Developmental Screening Passport for families to track their child’s screening outcomes!
- Bright Futures: In addition to the education on screening for medical providers, Bright Futures offers a “Family Pocket Guide” for raising children in English and Spanish, as well as an activity book for children with developmentally appropriate activities.
Creating a Community Resource Guide
Many localities have their own version of a community resource guide, some with early childhood-specific lists. These are good to either use or build upon to create your own list of referral resources. A good early childhood list would include:
- Early Intervention contact information
- Local libraries
- Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
- Early Childhood programs (YMCA, etc.)
Included in this Step:
- CDC Milestones Booklet Pages for AAP-recommended screening ages in English and Spanish: For your convenience, we have used the AAP-recommended screening ages to separate the corresponding Milestones Booklet pages for the 9, 18 and 24 month visits in both English and Spanish. Feel free to use as handouts.
- CDC Fotonovela about Developmental Screening in Spanish: great for the waiting room, this “fotonovela” is targeted at normalizing developmental concerns for Spanish-speaking families
- CDC Track Developmental Milestones: English brochure for what to expect at each age during the first few years of life
- Developmental Screening Poster for Parents: In English and Spanish, this is a poster created by New York’s Early Childhood Advisory Council in partnership with Docs for Tots to promote developmental screening among parents
- Birth-to-Five’s Developmental Screening Passport for parents to track developmental screening administration and results across providers. This is a great thing to give to parents and empower them as a consumer in their child’s development.