Did you know?

A strong emotional and social foundation is an essential component of school readiness and overall health and development. 19

Social and emotional problems and behavioral concerns in infants and toddlers have been shown to be predictive of problems at school-age. 20

But… Infant and toddler behavioral/mental health interventions can reduce the effects of risk and stress and help families develop buffers for their young children to cope with early adversity. 21

Why is Social-Emotional Screening in Your Practice Important?

Screening may lead to Improvement in Social and Emotional Development

Early social and emotional screening in pediatric settings, with referrals for behavioral health services, has been demonstrated to lead to significant improvements in social and emotional development. 22

Many problems identified through early screening of social and emotional development are responsive to short term interventions. 23


Families should be supported & connected to needed services

Parents are the child’s first teachers and have the primary decision-making role in the care of their own children.

Many parents have concerns about their child’s development, are worried about how to articulate their concerns, and have fears about being judged by providers.  Education and support for parents can minimize the fear and stigma associated with seeking services.

To minimize the stigma in seeking early childhood mental health services, primary care providers can support a parent’s role in the care of their young child through family-driven care and coordination of services. 

What Can You Tell Parents About Social and Emotional Screening?

We know that parents and caregivers play a primary role in helping their children grow and develop.  Parents also play a key role in helping their child cope and respond to life events.  However, what can parents do, when, after all their best attempts at managing behaviors or addressing concerns, there is no change in their child?

There are services and resources that can help parents understand their concerns about their child in a deeper way.  A developmental and behavioral health care screening can help parents figure out if further evaluation is needed for a social, emotional or behavioral concern.  Further evaluation can help parents find the services that their child may need, or may confirm for parents that their child does not need any services at this time.  An example of these services may be a developmental playgroup for children and parents where parents learn ways of playing with their children that supports an area of development – like language development.

Parents often turn to their pediatrician with their concerns about their child.  Pediatricians have a wonderful opportunity to help parents feel comfortable in advocating for services and supports for their child.