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MNAAP Newsletter

Expanding Help Me Grow in Minnesota

By Elsa Keeler, MD, MPH

When a child age birth to five is at risk for or identified with developmental delays, referral for education evaluation through Minnesota’s current Help Me Grow connects the family to evaluation and possible early intervention/special education services. This robust system has positive developmental resources and assures early intervention for positive developmental outcomes (see sidebar).

Yet, we know that not all children at risk are referred, and even if referral takes place, many may not qualify for education-based early intervention services. We understand the need to refer a child with a medical diagnosis to early intervention. However, we also know that social determinants and toxic stress contribute to mental and physical health and developmental outcomes. That is, even a healthy appearing baby may be on an at-risk developmental trajectory when his family encounters environment stress, parent mental health concerns, trauma, poverty, or lack of social supports. For pediatric clinicians, knowing what referral resources are available to offer families can be challenging, given factors such as family culture, preference, and community.

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Screening Instruments: Developmental Screening

By Elsa Keeler, MD, FAAP and Katy Schalla-Lesiak, MSN, MPH, APRN, CPNP

ElsaKeelerKaty Schalla LesiakUniversal developmental screening works and closes the gap. Since the AAP recommended standardized developmental screening in 2006, research continues to show that screening significantly improves our ability to identify developmental delays earlier and more accurately. Currently in Minnesota, less than 3 percent of children under age 3 are receiving Early Intervention (EI) services, despite a national estimate of 13 percent of children in this age group eligible for services.

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