|Helping young, at-risk children in Erie and Niagara Counties get the developmental and behavioral services they need to lead healthy lives
An estimated 17 percent of children under the age of 18 have behavioral or developmental challenges. Unfortunately 70 to 80 percent do not receive needed help and treatment. The Early Childhood Connections Pilot Program (ECCP) is designed to help children up to the age of five and their families by easily identifying potential and existing problems and linking them to appropriate assistance.
Since 2006, the Foundation has been working in the area of preschool mental health, beginning with an environmental scan of the issues, resources and possible strategies affecting this population. Findings from the report Addressing Children’s Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health in Erie and Niagara Counties
identified a key unmet need in these counties: early screening of young children is not routinely performed. Here is an excerpt from the report:
New York State does not currently require universal development or physical screenings for young children. These services are often not covered by insurance carriers or viewed as “billable” services. The lack of screening requirements and reimbursement limit the number of providers who do screenings on a routine basis. In addition, few providers have the time to discuss and address developmental issues with parents. As a result, there is limited attention paid to prevention or early intervention efforts.
ECCP is a collaboration between the Early Childhood Direction Center Western New York (ECDC; administered by Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, a Kaleida Health facility), local primary care practices and the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York (now known as the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York). ECCP helped to identify and connect to services those children at risk for developmental, behavioral, social-emotional, and/or mental health issues, many of whom are not eligible for existing programs such as Early Intervention or Preschool Special Education services.
Through the program, six primary care practices in Erie and Niagara County screened children under the age of five for potential developmental and behavioral issues using the PEDS screening tool
, a simple, quick, and validated screening tool. They then utilized a Linkage Coordinator at ECDC who assisted medical staff and families to locate and access existing services in our community. In addition to connecting families to services, the Linkage Coordinator provided information to help families overcome barriers to accessing services, followed up with families to ensure they received the help they required and communicated with primary care providers to make them aware of the services children in their care received.
The information and data gathered through this program helped to expand our understanding of the needs of children and families in our communities and identify gaps in services.
To read the final evaluation report for the Early Childhood Connections Program, click here
ECCP has greatly benefited from the help, guidance and technical assistance provided since March 2009 by the Help Me Grow National Replication Project funded by the Commonwealth Fund.
With the help of a grant and technical assistance from the Kellogg Foundation, ECCP will be transitioning into Help Me Grow Western New York. Help Me Grow is a national movement to create processes for identifying and connecting children and their families to services.
Addressing Children’s Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health in Erie and Niagara Counties PEDS screening toolIntroduction to Help Me Grow - Video