LAWRENCE – More than 50 early-childhood advocates from 12 Kansas counties gathered in Topeka on April 5 for the first of five daylong summits across the state this spring aimed at helping communities improve their systems for developmental screenings and referrals.
“We work collaboratively with other entities in our county, but we also work in different sectors,” said one of the attendees, Molly Jenkins, of Manhattan’s Raising Riley project. “This is a great opportunity to come together and see how we’re all using the tools, and what we can do to share data and use that to move forward.”
The no-cost “Screen Early Start Strong” Summits are part of the Kansas Initiative for Developmental Ongoing Screening (KIDOS), a collaborative effort between the Center for Public Partnerships & Research (CPPR) at the University of Kansas’ Achievement & Assessment Institute and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). KDHE serves as project manager, with CPPR providing project coordination and evaluation services. Remaining summit locations and dates are: Hays, April 21; Wichita, May 5; Garden City, May 12; Independence, May 19.
Jenkins said KIDOS was helping communities like hers strengthen existing efforts and infrastructure. Raising Riley, established in 1992, directly impacts 250 children and works with the Riley County Health Department and USD 383, among other partners.
“Our main objective is kindergarten readiness and early intervention for children, and doing these screenings gives us concrete data to help make informed decisions about how we can help those children and decide what kinds of things they need for those early interventions,” Jenkins said. “Screening gives us multiple data points on children, which also helps us monitor growth and development. The Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) give us sort of a partnership with childcare providers and parents to have meaningful conversations about their children.”
Communities participating in KIDOS are supported in selecting their own priorities. Depending on the status of current efforts, community priorities may include universal use of the ASQ screening instruments across screening sites, improving information sharing and referral coordination between early-childhood and medical-service providers, adoption of screening tools in all pediatric healthcare settings, or all providers and programs participating in an online ASQ screening system.
“We want to help effectively coordinate, improve and track developmental screenings and referrals for infants and toddlers across a variety of early-childhood support systems in Kansas,” said KDHE KIDOS Project Manager Deborah Richardson, PhD. “These efforts include home visiting, childcare and early-education settings, families, pediatric healthcare providers, and early-intervention services. Our aim is for community teams to advance from these summits with action plans to enhance or improve their community’s system.”
KIDOS is funded by a three-year, $140,000 annual federal Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grant awarded to the State of Kansas in July 2013. A work group of key state leaders chaired by University of Kansas Medical Center pediatrician and professor Dr. Pamela Shaw provides project guidance.
“The Screen Early Start Strong summits are a natural opportunity to guide communities through the activities and exercises in Coordinating Developmental Screenings in Early Childhood Systems and Medical Homes: A Toolkit for Communities, which was developed by the KIDOS project,” said Loretta Severin, CPPR KIDOS Project Coordinator. “These summits help to establish community infrastructure that will promote the sustainability of KIDOS efforts past the conclusion of the project period.”
Richardson recommends that community teams comprise a variety of health and early-childhood stakeholders, including early intervention (Part C/tiny-K), local interagency coordinating councils, home visiting, childcare, early care and education, school districts, pediatric healthcare, health departments, mental health providers, and managed-care organizations.
“The KIDOS project works with communities to build and strengthen their systems and coordination for developmental screenings and referrals across sectors in ways that meet the needs of both families and programs,” Richardson said. “We are committed to providing communities with tools to help them take a closer look at the current status of their early-childhood efforts, identify areas of improvement and determine steps to reach the desired outcomes.”
More about CPPR
One of the KU Achievement & Assessment Institute’s four research centers, CPPR assists partners with addressing complex social issues through research and evaluation, systems development, professional development, technical assistance, and performance-management systems. Strong partnerships with the Kansas Children's Cabinet & Trust Fund, Kansas Department of Health & Environment, Kansas State Department of Education, and the Kansas Health Foundation result in innovations, positive change and support for at-risk children, youth and families across the state.
More about the KIDOS project
The KIDOS project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H25MC00234, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems: Building Health Through Integration, $140,000. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by, HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
Achievement & Assessment Institute