Health 740

Children are screened and connected to early interventions

Girl playing with blocksWhat We Do

We fund social-emotional and developmental screening and early intervention programs to support children’s healthy development. We lead conversations and efforts in the community to increase children’s access to early mental health services.

Why We Do It

Access to early intervention programs is critical for children’s healthy development and lifelong success. Nationwide, approximately one in six children have developmental disabilities, and the majority of these children do not receive intervention services. In California, children with mild to moderate delays are particularly at risk of not receiving intervention services due to 2009 budget cuts that restricted children’s eligibility for state-sponsored services. 

Our Results

We support efforts to ensure children are screened and connected to early intervention services.

Watch Me Grow

The Watch Me Grow (WMG) program screens children for social-emotional and developmental delays and refers them to services as needed. The program acts as a central hub in the County, helping agencies coordinate so that families receive the services they need to support their child’s healthy development. 

Learn more about Watch Me Grow

In 2014-15, the Watch Me Grow program…

Screened and referred children: 
Children who would not otherwise have access to services received screenings and service referrals

Connected children with early intervention:
Families received services as needed following screenings (e.g. home visiting, playgroup to support child’s language development)

Monitored children’s improvement:
Children who received services for delays were re-screened to monitor their improvement and receive referrals to more services, if needed

…and as a result

302 children were screened for social-emotional and developmental delays.

200 children were referred for further services.

103 children received home visits, for a total of 876 home visits.

30 children finished a 12-week playgroup to support their speech and early literacy.

72% of children (44 of 61) improved after completing home visiting; these children showed improvement in their screening scores and did not need further services.

Advocacy for Early Childhood Mental Health Services

As an advocate for early childhood mental health, we lead and support efforts to increase children’s access to screenings and early interventions.

ThinkingSpeaking Up for Young Children:

We convened the Early Childhood Mental Health Task Force to coordinate the County’s efforts to support healthy social-emotional development for children 0-5.

The Task Force developed suggestions to support early childhood mental health and advocated for Sonoma County’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) to allocate funding for children 0-5 and their families. As a result, 25% of MHSA Prevention and Early Intervention funds are now pledged to children 0-5, making Sonoma County one of few California counties to explicitly ensure its youngest children have access to mental health care.

Sustaining Children’s Mental Health Services

We are leading a three-year pilot project to add social-emotional and developmental screenings to well-child visits funded by Medi-Cal in community health centers. In doing so, screenings will be more sustainable for the County, and more accessible to families.


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