OCTOBER 1, 2012 – Have you ever wondered if your young child is having trouble with speech, emotional development, social skills, physical coordination or problem solving? It can be difficult to know for sure, especially for first-time parents and for those without easy access to healthcare providers.
To that end, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, in collaboration with Great Start, has launched a portal to “Ages & Stages,” an interactive online screening tool to help parents connect with professionals and assess the development of their children, from birth through age five. The program is a confidential, free service that can be completed from the comfort of home.
According to Natalie Kasiborski, coordinator for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan's Early Childhood Behavioral Health Initiative (ECBHI), Ages & Stages is more than just a questionnaire. “It's an opportunity to spot and address problems before they inhibit a child's development,” she said. “Parents take about 15 minutes to answer specific questions about what they have observed in their child. We review their responses confidentially, and provide personalized follow-up at no charge.”
Ages & Stages doesn't end with the initial screening. Additional screens may be provided at two, four or six-month intervals; parents can log in periodically to complete a new screening. The program can also be a critical step in preparing for preschool and Kindergarten programs, which often require developmental screening by the time children are enrolled.
“The first five years are incredibly important,” said Maureen Hollocker, Director of the Char-Em Great Start Collaborative. “By using Ages & Stages to monitor simple behavioral attributes during this time, parents are giving their kids a much better chance to excel in school, and later in life.”
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. To participate in the FREE Ages & Stages developmental screening program, visit www.nwhealth.org/agesandstages, or contact Kasiborski at (231) 347-5144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.