We recognize how difficult it can be for parents to assess whether their young children are developing appropriately. Early intervention can facilitate optimal development in children with delays.
Support for Parents Recently we added special activities to raise parent awareness of children’s progress towards developmental milestones, and to assist parents whose toddlers appear to be lagging in developing communication or other essential skills.
Early Communication Counts! We started this pilot program at our Huntington Park WIC center, where we provide early childhood development support services to parents of children 17 to 36 months of age and recommend appropriate parent-child activities. Parents are prompted to become more aware of child development and age-appropriate motor, language and behavior milestones, and to identify any areas of concern. Our staff encourage parents to discuss any concerns with their children’s physicians.
Parents of children 17 to 36 months of age complete a brief questionnaire every six months. Our staff discuss parents’ concerns with them, suggest strategies and, when indicated, refer them to the child development specialist on site. She conducts further assessment and, if appropriate, provides one-on-one support and assists with referrals to outside agencies. This approach has enabled the specialist to identify and refer children with moderate-to-severe developmental delays.
One Step Ahead We began piloting this early literacy project, also known as Little by Little, at the Huntington Park WIC Center in 2012. We introduced this program at our Manchester WIC Center in 2014. Little by Little, first implemented at five Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC centers between 2003 and 2008, integrates early learning and school readiness activities with WIC services.
Let’s Talk! The Huntington Park WIC Center also hosts a special “Let’s Talk” class. This early intervention, offered as a weekly one-hour class, assists in building and improving relationships between parents and toddlers. Staff provide parenting education and model positive interaction. Activities are designed to model reading and play, to improve language and communications skills, and to address parents’ questions and concerns. The class incorporates a variety of enjoyable learning activities using puzzles, puppets, blocks and books. Participation is based on referral by our child development specialist.