Health Care Providers

The Importance of Early Development

Parents turn to you for expert guidance.
We help you give it to them.

You play a vital role in laying the foundation for strong brain development from the start.

As a health care provider, you know the importance of early childhood development and brain growth. From surveillance and screenings to helping moms and dads survive and thrive in the early years, you’re on the front lines carrying out the mission to improve the health of Mississippi’s children. We want to make sure you have everything you need to make that happen.

Healthcare Providers

Surveillance vs Screening: What’s the Difference?

Health care providers in Mississippi typically do a good job with developmental surveillance! Now let’s take it to the next level with regular developmental screenings. Surveillance is ongoing developmental monitoring at well-child checks—it’s what you do at every visit already: noting whether a child is reaching his milestones and asking parents if they have concerns; but screenings use a validated tool and are performed at specific intervals. Using a reliable screening tool at recommended intervals can help identify mild delays that otherwise may be easily overlooked during routine surveillance. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a validated screening tool like Ages and Stages (ASQ) or Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months or when a developmental concern arises.

Surveillance occurs continuously over time.

Screening occurs at specific points in time using a validated screening tool like the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS).

Regular surveillance is still important in addition to screenings.

During all well-child visits, the AAP recommends surveillance (or monitoring) of developmental delays by:

  • Asking parents about their concerns
  • Obtaining the child’s developmental history
  • Observing the child's behaviors
  • Identifying risks and protective factors
  • Documenting your findings

Developmental Screening for Health Care Professionals

Validated screening tools are available, important, and billable.

The AAP has what you need to implement regular developmental screenings into your practice—everything from technical assistance and educational opportunities, to office workflow and billing resources. The Mississippi Thrive! team is also available to provide assistance through our Practice Transformation project. Contact us with questions: 615-815-6382.

Helpful screening tools.

Filter and sort a variety of topics and categories to learn more about the many tools you have at your disposal to assist child patients in their development.

Don't wait to act.

It is important to refer children right away if needed. They often don’t just “grow out of” delays.
The Mississippi Thrive! call line can help you connect families with the right support.

For children younger than three who need developmental services, start with First Steps Early Intervention Program through Mississippi State Department of Health. They can be reached at 1-800-451-3903 or by clicking here.

For children age three and older who need developmental services, link families to Child Find, which offers services and interventions for unique educational needs.

These services are available at no cost to families.

Health Care Providers

Resources are available to help you equip families as “brain builders”

Vroom. The perfect way to help families help their children. Vroom is a valuable online resource full of free, easy-to-use tips and activities parents can use to help their children learn and grow.

Teach families how to mark the milestones.
Plus get free materials for your office.

The CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early” program offers free, evidence-based, parent-friendly resources to assist you with discussing developmental surveillance from age 2 months to 5 years. They’ll also provide your practice with free educational materials to share with others.

Seeing is believing. Show parents the brain in action.

These videos about the architecture of the brain help illustrate how brains work and why their growth is so crucial in early childhood development.