Implementing an early childhood developmental screening and surveillance program in primary care settings: Lessons learned from Enhancing Developmentally Oriented Primary Care (EDOPC)
A project called Enhancing Developmentally Oriented Primary Care, with the goal of increasing the financing and delivery of preventive developmental services for children birth to age 3 years in the state of Illinois, provided training and technical assistance to primary care providers throughout the state of Illinois. Primary care providers have opportunities to screen and observe infants and toddlers and their caregivers more than any other professional, because they see them up to 13 times in the first 3 years of life for well-child visits. The project used a 1-hour, on-site training for primary care providers and their entire office staff as the method of increasing knowledge. Training focused on intent to change practice and implement validated routine early childhood developmental screening, and early referrals to Early Intervention or other community resources. Although many primary care providers routinely use only developmental surveillance in their practices, clinical practice guidelines recommend routine use of standardized developmental screening, using validated developmental screening tools. This presentation will share lessons learned and recommendations based on clinical practice guidelines and experiences of the team members during implementation of the EDOPC project and others. Primary care providers are critical to this process because children with developmental disorders have the best long-term outcomes and opportunities for improved family functioning with early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.