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Developmental Screening

Podcast: Child Development Screening Part Two

WithinReach podcast

Part two of our child development series is here! Emma and Stephanie talk about social and emotional development and why it’s important to pay attention to this area early in your child’s life.

Listen to part one for background before this episode!

Complete a free child development questionnaire (social-emotional or general), and learn more about this service.

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   ASQ   ASQ:SE   Child Development   Developmental Screening   

2016 Legislative Summary

Written by Carrie Glover, Senior Policy Manager

At about 11:00pm on March 29th the 2016 legislative session was adjourned. This year was a ‘short session’ that was mostly focused on writing a supplemental budget.

WithinReach did very well this session, including securing funding for an immunization validation tool and a school module within the Immunization Information System (IIS), which was our top priority going into 2016.  It was a great year of working with our partners in Olympia and we made real progress in breaking down barriers that prevent families from living healthy lives.

We also supported some additional issues as they emerged through session, and those also fared very well.  Below is a summary of the outcomes of our top priorities as well as other issues we supported this session that had successful outcomes.

Here is a brief summary of where we landed in the budget for our priorities:

Immunization Validation Tool & School Module within the IIS (budget only)

  • Budget ask: $511,000>
  • Final Amount funded: $511,000

Developmental and Autism Screenings for Medicaid (budget only)

  • Budget ask: Maintain current funding
  • Outcome: No cuts were made to the screenings

HB 1295: Breakfast After the Bell (budget and bill)

  • Bill: Require all high needs schools to offer breakfast after the bell
  • Budget ask: $2.692 million for startup grants
  • Outcome: Unfortunately the Breakfast After the Bell legislation did not pass this year.  Since the bill didn’t pass, the startup grants also were not funded in the final budget

Healthiest Next Generation (budget only)

  • Budget ask: fund staff positions at OSPI & DEL for this initiative
  • Outcome: Unfortunately this was not funded in the final budget

Other issues we supported that were successful:

HB 2877: Expanding SNAP Distribution dates

  • Bill: Expand the distribution dates for SNAP beneficiaries from the 1st through 10th of the month to the 1st through the 20th of the month
  • Budget ask: funding needed to implement the system change
  • Outcome: The bill passed with a great deal of support and $300,000 in funding was included for implementation in the final budget 

HB 2439: Mental health services for children and youth

  • Bill: Increasing access to adequate and appropriate mental health services for children and youth including establishing a workgroup to identify barriers in accessing mental health services, report on the status of access to services, expand the Partnership Access Line (PAL), and require coverage for annual depression screenings according to the Bright Future guidelines
  • Budget ask: funding needed for implementation of the workgroup, inventory of services, expansion of the PAL line, and the depression screenings.
  • Outcome: The bill passed, though with only the workgroup and inventory of services.  The PAL line was funded in the final budget even though it wasn’t included in the final bill.  Unfortunately the depression screenings weren’t funded or included in the bill.

SB 5143: Childhood Immunization Resources

  • Bill: Requires DOH to develop resources for expecting parents about recommended childhood immunizations.
  • Outcome: This bill passed with a great deal of support and some of our WithinReach staff were able to be at the bill signing with Governor Inslee.


Learn more about the guiding principles of our policy work.



Tags: Breakfast After the Bell   Developmental Screening   food stamps   immunizations   SNAP   vaccines      Washington state   

Back to (pre-)school partnerships

Over the last year and a half, the Bothell Family Co-op Preschool has partnered with Help Me Grow to expand use of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ).  The expansion includes working with preschool teachers and families to allow ASQ results to be part of the parent-teacher conversation, and for the results to inform and improve practices in the classroom. Since the trial run was so successful, we are excited to expand this service to other affiliated co-op preschools within the Shoreline Community College’s Parenting Education Program this fall.

Co-op Preschools Provide Optimal Environment for Parent Engagement

The cooperative preschool model brings parents and skilled educators together to provide a rich learning experience for children. Parents assist in their child’s preschool once a week and attend meetings on child development, kindergarten readiness, emotion coaching and more. Parents are active partners in their children’s learning and development. Educators are poised to help reframe developmental screening—once seen as a strictly diagnostic tool—as an educational strategy for optimizing child development that is suitable for all children.

Unique Professionals

The preschool teachers have unique insight into co-op families’ lives, and are trusted sources of information. To support this valuable dynamic, WithinReach offers its ASQ to preschool teachers to bring to their students’ families. The ASQ can spark important conversation with parents about their child’s development. Teachers are trained to present the tool and empower parents to observe their child’s skills. In addition to parent education, the results can inform how teachers plan their curriculum.

Help Me Grow

WithinReach’s Help Me Grow team equips teachers to present the ASQ and utilize the results. Teachers direct families to WithinReach’s free online ASQ, where parents complete and submit it. A WithinReach Child Development Specialist calls each parent to discuss their results, along with any community resources to foster child growth, e.g. Play & Learn groups or additional evaluation. With parent permission, WithinReach staff sends a copy of the results to the preschool teacher. WithinReach’s unique role involves lending parents a fresh ear, triaging families to community resources, and informing teachers of each child’s developmental status so that everyone can work together to create a positive learning environment.

We are excited about this partnership, unique population, and opportunity to expand access to developmental screening in a new and creative way.

For more information about the Help Me Grow program, call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   preschool   

Community connections for children with special health care needs

I have two children, both of whom occupy varying points on the autism spectrum (often depending on the day) with some other health issues thrown into the mix.  As they have grown, so have their amazing personalities; so have the challenges.  I suspect it is not all that different for parents of typically-developing children.  Community can be particularly important for families with children who present unique challenges (and skills!) beyond the usual antics.  However, for reasons from accessibility, to awareness, to stigma, those challenges/differences can be isolating.

Children and youth with special health care needs are those who have or are at risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services beyond what children generally require.  For example, a child who has a developmental disability such as Down syndrome, as well as asthma or allergies, would be considered to have a special health care need.  Another example might be someone with ADHD and diabetes.  In Washington State, an estimated 235,920 children and youth under age 18 have a special health care need – that is 15% of all youth.  Connection to health care, education, community, and family support are important factors in the quality of life for individuals with special health care needs and their families.

One important resource for children and families with a diagnosed or potential special health care need is Early Intervention, which is a system of services that can help infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays to learn key skills and catch up in their development.  For children from birth to age three, Washington State Early Intervention providers offer free developmental evaluations and support services like speech, physical, or behavior therapy.  These services “are designed to enable young children to be active, independent and successful participants in a variety of settings.”

In addition, Washington State has a robust and active family network of support when it comes to children and youth with special health care needs.  From Parent to Parent, to PAVE , to the Father’s Network, caregivers with personal experience navigating the emotional and logistic complexities of special health care needs are an important resource.  Whether you are just starting out on your journey, or have a question relating to a very specific diagnosis, chances are there is another family out there who has been down a similar path and can offer some experiential advice.

Raising children is hard and beautiful and humbling.  It is a deeply individual, personal experience while at the same time having the capacity to be incredibly unifying.  Parent and caregiver networks, supportive clinicians, and educational advocates have proved invaluable in my own journey to empower myself and my children to thrive and contribute as members of our local community.  Working at WithinReach, I have the opportunity to help other families thrive, too.

To find out if your child would benefit from early intervention, ask your primary care provider or call our specialists at the Family Health Hotline (1-800-322-2588). This statewide, toll-free number offers help in English, Spanish and other languages.

You can find out more about peer support networks by calling the Answers for Special Kids line at 1-800-322-2588 or by visiting


Tags: Autism   Child Development   Developmental Screening   Early Intervention   Family Health Hotline   ParentHelp123   Special needs   Washington state   

How Help Me Grow Supports Washington State’s Early Learning Initiatives

Co-written with Keri Foster, Help Me Grow Family Engagement Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
Washington State is committed to supporting early learning for all children. We know that kindergarten readiness is an issue in our state. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), only 44% of students showed up to their first day of kindergarten ready to learn (OSPI, 2005). The Washington State Early Learning Plan identifies specific strategies that support early learning professionals to increase their quality of care and interactions with children to improve outcomes for children in school and throughout their lifespan. At WithinReach, our Help Me Grow program is supporting the state’s efforts by joining with community partners who are making early learning a focus. Screening for healthy child development is happening more and more during wellness visits at the doctors, in child care settings, and preschools. We are stepping up to help our partners increase their screening efforts and quality by helping families access community-based resources.
For example, we are partnering with the Washington Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to support primary care physicians to conduct regular screening and ensure families get connected to resources that support their children. We are also partnering with local preschools and child care sites to explore ways to support staff and parents to make screening a regular onsite activity. In preschool and child care settings we are also helping to facilitate the follow-up conversations where parents receive feedback on their child’s development. When we partner with professionals who are serving children, we can have a greater impact. Good health, strong families, and supportive learning experiences are all needed to enable children to succeed in school and life.

Kelly Smith

Bio: Kelly Smith is the new Help Me Grow Program Manager. She brings her passion for building strong families and supporting healthy kids. Before coming to WithinReach, she spent eight years working to address homelessness in Washington State by working to ensure homeless families have the resources they need to thrive. Prior to that, she worked at the YMCA at a drop-in center for teens.

For more information about the Help Me Grow program, call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit


Tags: Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   kindergarten ready   OSPI   School readiness   Washington Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics   Washington state   

Parents Share Their Experiences With the Ages and Stages Questionnaire

Written by Help Me Grow AmeriCorps VISTA, Keri Foster

As a parent, have you ever wondered, ‘Is my child on track for preschool?’ Developmental milestones are key skills that children learn at predictable times; knowing where your child is at in reaching these milestones is a great way to make sure they’re making good progress towards school readiness. That’s why the Help Me Grow Washington program at WithinReach provides families with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), an easy to use, doctor recommended tool for checking in on your child’s developmental milestones.

The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is an activity-based developmental screening questionnaire that asks you to look at your child’s development by completing simple activities together. For example, on the ASQ for a 14 month old baby, the questionnaire asks, “when your baby wants something does she tell you by pointing at it.” You can answer yes, sometimes, or not yet. By completing the ASQ, you can find out what your child is capable of, what their strengths are, and what you can work on together – even if they’re on track.

Parents report having a positive experience filling out the Ages and Stages Questionnaire with their child. According to Scott, a participating father, the questionnaire was accessible: “it wasn’t arduous which I kind of expected and I thought it might be harder.” In fact, he and his daughter, “had a fun time doing it together. [Emma] liked showing off what she could do and so not only did I feel like I could answer the questions, we had a good time.” Watch a video of Scott and Emma completing the ASQ.

The questionnaire can be done in the comfort in your own home. It can also give you insight into new activities you and your child can do to practice emerging skills. Other parents describe similar positive experiences. Kelly, mother to a 14 month old explains, “it gave me some ideas of what I could be working [on] with my daughter. I know some things in our daily life that incorporate picking up things or being able to go up and down stairs so it gave me some ideas of activities we could be doing around the house [to support her development].” Watch a video of Kelly and her daughter completing the ASQ.

Filling out the Ages and Stages Questionnaire is not only simple and fun, it is also a great way to spend quality time with your child and be actively involved in your child’s developmental growth. Plus, we’ll connect you with activity suggestions and community resources that help you support your child’s early learning goals. To get involved in your child’s development complete an Ages and Stages Questionnaire today! Call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit

Tags: Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   

I Am Five: Help Me Learn and Grow

Written by Help Me Grow AmeriCorps VISTA, Keri Foster
As a parent, have you ever wondered, ‘Is my child on track for preschool?’ Developmental milestones are key skills that children learn at predictable times; knowing where your child is at in reaching these milestones is a great way to make sure they’re making progress towards school readiness. That’s why the Help Me Grow Washington program at WithinReach provides families with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), a free, easy to use, doctor recommended tool for checking in on your child’s developmental milestones.
Children are natural learners. They learn very quickly in their early years and in many ways. Most of the time they do not need to be “taught” to learn, they are learning simply by watching, listening, asking, trying new things, and practicing skills. Here are some fun activities to encourage your child’s development.
That’s a Wrap: This activity utilizes your child’s fine motor skills. Give your child a small sturdy box. Cut a piece of wrapping paper for your child. Let them decorate the paper using stickers, markers, or stamps. Let your child wrap the box with the wrapping paper. This helps develop control of small muscles in their hands and fingers when they hold the paper down, and put the tape on it. It also helps your child’s creativity when decorating the wrapping paper.

Animals All Over: This activity helps to engage your child’s gross motor skills. You will need pictures of animals. Turn the pictures of animals face down. Take turns with your child choosing a picture. Act out the animal you picked together. For example, you will jump for a kangaroo or run fast for a cheetah. This helps your child use their large muscles in their body when they are acting like different animals.

Role Plays: This activity works on your child’s personal-social skills. Collect some items that your child can use to create a pretend restaurant, doctor’s office, or another setting. Have your child take turns playing different roles with another person. This activity promotes creativity in your child when using pretend play items. When role playing with your child, try asking them more questions to help them think further about their role. For example, when playing restaurant, say to your child things like, “I really like French fries. Can I get some French fries with ketchup?” or “Does this restaurant have milkshakes? What kind of milkshakes do you have?”

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   

Early Detection Starts With Developmental Screening

Written by Help Me Grow Americorps VISTA member, Kate Imus

When I started my year of service as an AmeriCorps*VISTA  with the Help Me Grow Washington program, I was prepared for the work, but new to the topics of child development and developmental screening. Given my limited experience with kids, I was shocked to hear that an estimated 17% of children have developmental delays including speech articulation issues, ADHD and autism. Because only 30% of these kids are identified as delayed before starting kindergarten, often they have not had access to treatment, and many start kindergarten already behind. School readiness – or the cognitive, pre-literacy, social and self regulatory skills children need to succeed in a school environment – is essential for setting kids up for the best start in school and in life.

More surprising is that kids who aren’t school ready when they enter kindergarten are unlikely to catch up. They’re less likely to graduate on time, more likely to repeat grades, and more likely to be enrolled in long term special education. They even experience higher rates of teen pregnancy, delinquency, incarceration and low earnings.

Of course, not all kids who aren’t school ready will experience these outcomes, and school readiness is not just a concern for children with delays. But given the lifelong impact of school readiness and the success of early interventions like physical, occupational and speech therapy, there is ample incentive to try and detect as many kids with delays as possible, as early as possible.

Early detection starts with developmental screening. Screening is a quick and interactive way to get a snapshot of a child’s development and to see which kids may need further evaluation or support, but only 25% of Washington kids receive screening at any point. Because the early signs of delay may be hard to see, the best way to catch delays early – when treatment is most effective and outcomes are best – is to screen all kids regularly.

Free screening and other services are available for all WA kids up to age five through the Help Me Grow WA program.

Tags: Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   

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