Developmental Screening in Oakland: Recommendations for an Inclusive and Effective System
As we discussed in a previous blog post, developmental screening helps families understand a child’s development, celebrate milestones, and identify supports for delays in development. Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), First 5 Alameda County/Help Me Grow (HMG) and other partners have been expanding access to developmental screenings for young children in Oakland.
Oakland Starting Smart and Strong (OSSS) conducted a research study last year to examine the reach of developmental screening in Oakland across pediatric and early childhood education sites, and explore practices for screening and referral to services. As part of the study, OSSS reviewed data and conducted focus groups and key informant interviews with: early childhood education teachers, center directors, administrators, and the HMG Family Advisory Committee, which is made up of parents whose children have received developmental screening.
Our study found significant growth in developmental screening in Oakland among early childhood education providers and pediatric offices in Oakland. We also found that programs designed to serve families most impacted by racial and economic inequities have been particularly successful in providing access to screening. HMG’s strong technical assistance has proven critical to the effective expansion of developmental screening access in Oakland.
“Developmental screening was the first step to help me understand my children's development … it helped me understand developmental delays..."
– Parent of twins, patients at Children’s Hospital Oakland
While access to screening has improved, the study found disparities in screening activity across neighborhoods and demographic groups. For example, screening rates were lower in East Oakland, reflecting the lack of access to Head Start and OUSD preschool in this part of the city.
Based on the results of the research study, OSSS convened partners to develop implementation, policy and research recommendations that will support an inclusive and effective screening, assessment and support system for young children in Oakland. These recommendations include a greater focus on specific neighborhoods and demographic groups that have had lower rates of screening, integrating screening results with kindergarten transition activities, and increasing efforts to share results and follow up with parents and caregivers.
Read the brief for more information about the study and its findings, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to partner with us on the next steps.
Acknowledgements: OSSS would like to thank Austin Land, PhD candidate at Goldman School of Public Policy, for conducting this research project. Our appreciation also extends to First 5 Alameda/Help Me Grow, Oakland Unified School District Early Learning Department and City of Oakland Head Start, who have shared data and provided feedback and insight.
Limitations - Data was not available for some ECE providers, home visiting services, and pediatric offices. Most demographic data is only available at the provider level, and only for 2018-19. Due to COVID-10, there were challenges with remote interviewing that led to small/limited focus groups and interviews which may not be a representative sample.