Developmental Screening for All: Workforce Development

This is the fourth and final post in our blog series “Developmental Screening for All.” For the past year, Best Starts for Kids has been gathering feedback from community members and partners to better understand the successes, gaps and disparities related to developmental screening, referral and connection to services in King County. We are so excited to now share back what we heard in a week long series. Whether you are simply curious to know what developmental screening is or contributed to our information gathering, we want to share our findings with you in a transparent way to help lay the groundwork for our way forward. You can read our earlier posts on strength-based, equity and building an equitable system for full context.


Goal #4 Workforce development

A skilled workforce is one of the most essential elements to ensuring quality developmental supports and services for young children. And while families often face barriers to service, providers also experience barriers to ensuring the best services are available to every family they serve.

In a recent survey of King County providers and caregivers, 70% of providers identified lack of resources for screening and 68% identified uncertainty about referral services as significant barriers to screening children for development delay. Further, in conversations with nearly 100 King County parents and caregivers, Best Starts heard the need to diversify the workforce serving young children and ensure more routine access to trainings and professional development for providers.

Currently, Best Starts is developing a Developmental Screening and Referral Strategic Plan that will emphasize strategies to ensure King County providers are reflective of communities served and have the resources they need to deliver high quality, trauma-informed and strengths-based services. At the same time, Best Starts has invested in innovative projects that are piloting culturally and linguistically specific workforce curriculums for providers serving young children and families. One pilot project grantee, HopeCentral Pediatrics and Behavioral Health, has been working to educate providers serving Vietnamese families with children on the Autism spectrum.


The HopeCentral team shares, “HopeCentral and the Vietnamese Family Autism Advisory Board have partnered with the University of Washington LEND Program and Seattle Children’s Autism Center to provide trainings to providers who serve Vietnamese children and families. So far, over 60 providers have participated in two trainings. These trainings have covered a number of important topics, including a basic understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) evaluation and diagnosis, understanding the ways ASD affects families, referral resources beneficial to children with ASD, and reviewing and evaluation of a Vietnamese translation of the autism screening tool (MCHAT-R) for cultural and linguistic appropriateness. The response from both providers and presenters has been overwhelmingly positive. One provider called us after the training and came to visit our clinic to see how we run HopeCentral for autism screening and primary care.  Another provider commented that she very much appreciated the amazing primary care toolkit we put together as a resource for providers. 

At the same time, we have also been holding focus groups with parents and caregivers to learn about how the autism screening tool (MCHAT-R) can be better adapted to serve Vietnamese families. Participants have not only contributed valuable information to the cultural adaptation of the MCHAT-R, but they have also expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to discuss the cultural perception of developmental disabilities, learn from others, and feel supported through the group discussions. This input will be shared with providers and eventually impact the ways in which Vietnamese families are screened and connected with their healthcare providers. We are looking forward to interacting with more providers to ensure Vietnamese children with ASD are diagnosed and connected earlier to services for better outcomes.”


A thriving workforce means more children and families are thriving, too. Stay tuned for more details about our Strategic Plan for this strategy, which will be released at the end of 2019!


Are you an early care, education, or health care provider who wants to learn more about this work? Join us for a webinar on October 3 from noon to 1pm. Continuing education credits will be offered for various health professions and child care professionals. You can register and learn more information here.


To read the full blog series, visit the links below:

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