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Dec/Jan 2009Vol. 9, No. 10Assessing Early Developmental Delays in Young Children in Foster Care

Research has demonstrated that children in foster care are disproportionately at risk for early developmental delays. Early identification and intervention can make an enormous difference in the long-term adjustment and development of these children. A recent study at the University of Illinois evaluated the effectiveness of conducting centralized assessments of young children entering foster care in order to identify early childhood developmental delays.

Data were collected on 94 young children entering foster care in Cook County, IL, who had been assessed through the Department of Child and Family Services' Early Education Project between 2003 and 2006. All assessments were conducted by trained evaluators. Results showed that 57.2 percent of assessed children had probable developmental delays, and 98 percent were referred for a formal evaluation. Findings suggest that a centralized assessment conducted by trained specialists in a designated unit can result in earlier identification of developmental delays and higher referral rates for appropriate intervention services that are shown to be associated with improved outcomes for children in care.

"Centralized Assessment of Early Developmental Delays in Children in Foster Care: A Program That Works" was written by Christina M. Bruhn, Denise Duval, and Richard Louderman and published in Children and Youth Services Review, 30(5). It can be purchased online: