Concerned your young child isn’t on track? Call 2-1-1

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Think your young child may have a developmental or behavioral issue?

Dial 2-1-1.

Will Francis, regional care coordinator for Help Me Grow Alabama, said that the program partners with 2-1-1 to receive confidential calls from family members regarding a child’s developmental or behavioral concerns, assess the child’s needs and available resources and refer families to developmental services.

Help Me Grow is a system that builds collaboration across sector, including child health care, early care and education, and family support.

“We offer free screening for birth to 5,” he said. “Maybe you think your child has a hearing, vision or cognitive issue. Or maybe your child talks to you but in his own made up language.”

Francis said that a lot of times parents don’t know children have issues until they get to school because they aren’t interacting with other children.

“The developmental screening takes 20 minutes,” he said. “The worse thing is that you need to go to a pediatrician.”

The questionnaire is called Ages and Stages Questionnaire.

“The questions are things such as, ‘What was your child’s first word?’ or questions about your child’s temper tantrums.”

Francis said parents get a score. Then professionals will follow-up and parents will learn if development appears on schedule, needs to be monitored and provided learning activities or requires further assessment with a professional.

Francis said that 1 in 5 children have a developmental delay, and only 30 percent of those children get help.

“That still leaves thousands of children without early intervention,” he said.

Francis said Help Me Grow coaches parents through the process.

“We check in on parents,” he said.

Children’s Policy Council chairman Trippy McGuire said the program was a good one.

“This helps so that children will be school ready,” he said. “We can address the problem early on and they can be in regular classes. Early intervention is key. We want all of our kids to succeed.”

To utilize the service, simply dial 2-1-1.