• September 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 7

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Addressing Developmental Needs of Young Children

A recent study funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, examined the developmental needs of young children (0 to 5 years) in the child welfare system and the degree to which these needs were being addressed. The report looks at data on more than 2,000 young children from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, which suggest the following:

  • A significant number, perhaps half, of these young children experienced developmental delays.
  • In a significant number of children, these developmental problems were unrecognized by caseworkers and caregivers.
  • Despite the availability of early care and education (ECE) center-based programs such as Head Start, children who qualified often were not enrolled.

Researchers also conducted field study interviews in Colorado, foster parent surveys, and child welfare caseworker surveys to examine the problems associated with enrolling children in ECE programs. They outline strategies for promoting collaboration among professionals in order to improve assessment and enrollment. These strategies are described, with examples, in a number of areas, including:

  • Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C and B policy
  • ECE policy
  • Record keeping and sharing of information
  • Training
  • Interagency planning and collaboration

The report concludes that early assessment and appropriate interventions may help young children in the child welfare system overcome early trauma and acquire the necessary skills to succeed in school.

To access the full paper, Children at Risk in the Child Welfare System: Collaborations to Promote School Readiness by the Catherine E. Cutler Institute for Child and Family Policy, visit the following website:

http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/schoolreadiness/CAR%20Final%20Report,%20for%20website.pdf (1,188 KB)

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