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Assessing and Monitoring Child Development: Healthy Steps for Young Children

Caregiving approaches during a child's early years—talking, cuddling, smiling, and otherwise responding to and interacting with an infant—have a profound effect on future development and learning. Still, many parents do not fully understand the impact of their actions, and pediatricians and their office staff often lack the time necessary to present this information. "Healthy Steps for Young Children" was designed to ensure that children ages birth to three years receive appropriate developmental and behavioral services. Trials of the program, which introduces developmental specialists into pediatric practices, demonstrate that it improves quality of care, enhances pediatrician–parent communications, and increases use of preventive services. Participating parents also develop child-rearing skills, such as reading to children and using favorable discipline techniques. A Fund-supported evaluation of Healthy Steps found that the program has improved quality of care, enhanced communications between pediatricians and parents, and helped children receive appropriate preventive services. For more information, see the related publications or visit the Healthy Steps Web site.

August 2004

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