Easterseals Eastern Pennsylvania recently secured funding from the Harry C. Trexler Trust, United Way of Berks County, The Will R. Beitel Children’s Community Foundation, Just Born Quality Confections and the Leona Gruber Trust to support its Make the First Five Count program in the Lehigh Valley and Berks County.
Make the First Five Count is a program that provides free developmental screenings of children from birth to age five in order to determine if they are meeting developmental milestones and identify developmental delays, disabilities and social-emotional challenges. The first five years of life are critical for brain development, so it is essential that needs are met as soon as possible during this period. Early identification and early intervention services provide the most valuable approach to promoting a child’s development during the first five years of life, and have huge academic, social and economic benefits.
Parents can complete the screening online using the Ages & Stages Questionnaire, which is available in English and Spanish. One of our child development specialists then contacts the family to go over the results, provide activities the family can do at home to support the child’s development and if necessary, provide a referral to Early Intervention services for further assessment if a potential delay or disability is detected. Families are invited to re-screen as often as they like to monitor their child’s development and see if their interventions are having the desired impact.
Over the seven years the program has been offered, we have conducted over 3,600 screenings. Over 1,900 children have been screened (some more than once with follow-up screenings) and almost 700 have been identified as having a possible developmental delay or disability and referred for Early Intervention services. An additional 455 children were identified as at risk and have been monitored, given activities parents can do at home and then rescreened to see if the interventions are having the desired impact.
As an organization, Easterseals is invested in Make the First Five Count to build awareness, provide answers and solutions to parents, and give children at risk of developmental delays, disabilities or autism the right support they need to be school-ready and build a foundation for a lifetime of learning.
Page updated 8/21/20