In 2003, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) convened the California Statewide Screening Collaborative (CSSC), with funding from the federal Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grant. Since 2003, the CSSC built upon initial efforts under the ECCS and Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) Projects with support from multiple state agencies, including CDPH, and California Department of Education (CDE) through a variety of funding mechanisms. The CSSC has brought together state agencies, organizations, and initiatives with the purpose of enhancing California’s capacity to promote, and deliver effective and well-coordinated health, developmental, and early mental health screenings for children birth to five.
Primary objectives of the CSSC were:
- Improving coordination among state agencies and programs involved in early identification and referral;
- Promoting the use of standardized screening tools, effective screening protocols, and increased communication among agencies and services; and,
- Identifying screening resources, funding and follow-up supports that promote health early childhood development, school readiness, positive parent-child relationships, and access to services.
In 2016, the CSSC was re-organized under the leadership of the Department of Public Health and the Department of Developmental Services with an emphasis on developmental screenings for children birth through five by health care providers and in primary care settings. With this focus, the CSSC shifted to a smaller Statewide Screening Taskforce with a charge of:
- Developing a statewide, California-specific health care provider guide for developmental and behavioral screenings.
- Mapping and analyzing screening activities statewide.
- Developing policy recommendations and action steps.
- Developing guidance for local health jurisdictions on the health care provider guide.
- Developing recommendations on outreach to referral sources for IDEA Part C, California’s Early Start program.
Although there are many avenues to support the developmental screening and referral of children in California, systemic challenges exist which prevent all children from being screened and connected to the services they need. It is important to note that these challenges are not unique to California, with many states across the country facing similar challenges. California has worked to identify challenges and barriers over the years and at the local level, counties have built systems through pilots and local level partnerships to address challenges head on.
The Taskforce is currently focused on using their landscape analysis as a starting point to develop state level recommendations and action steps. The analysis and Taskforce recommendations will be shared with representatives from key organizations in the state that have developmental screenings as a focus to determine how, together, they can move the needle on developmental screenings for children in the state.
Updated August 2019