The Little BlueJays Care Child Development Centre’s Screening Program is specifically designed to identify children who may have potential problems in learning or development. Screening tools are quickly and easily administered to identify children who need more extensive assessment.
Screening is the practice of systematically looking for and monitoring signs that a young child may be delayed in one or more areas of development. Screening is not meant to establish a diagnosis for the child, but rather to help professionals determine if a more in-depth assessment is the next step. In most cases, screening rules out the likelihood that further assessment is needed.
How it works – Screening tools usually take the form of a series of questions or checklists used to track children’s development relative to milestones achieved by a larger group of children of the same age.
Screening addresses common questions parents and professionals have about the development of young children. Such screening is ideally brief and cost-effective so that large numbers of children can be assessed in a relatively short period of time. Some common examples of screening activities are child-find clinics in the community, kindergarten screening clinics at schools. Screenings for problems in learning reading and math are becoming commonplace in primary school classrooms. In addition to such broad-based efforts to identify developmental problems among large groups of children, child care programs are being encouraged to conduct periodic screenings of all children served.
Recommended Practices in Screening
Screening procedures should include multiple sources of information. Screening is never conducted as an end in itself, but rather to document those youngsters whose development is on track, and to identify concerns. The implication for practice is thoughtful attention to combining screening tests with observation and interview of parents, and reviewing results in light of family input and feedback.
The best screening procedures have predetermined decision rules to guide follow up of results. Screening procedures should always include referral and follow-up guidelines. When scores suggest a concern, children are referred for more extensive assessment and parents receive information and counseling about the process. When scores are equivocal or borderline, parents are notified of results and the next screening is scheduled in three months.
Screening results should only be used for the purpose they are developed: to identify children who will benefit from further assessment.
Screening instruments should be norm-referenced; sensory and early academic screenings that are criterion-referenced should have explicit standards for comparison. All screening instruments should be standardized in their administration and scoring.
Screening instruments must have data available to document reliability and validity, as well as sensitivity and specific city.
Screening procedures must be culturally and linguistically relevant. Results of screenings are only valid if the procedures and methods are appropriate for a given child’s culture and language background.