Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: July 01, 2015
Published Online: February 09, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2020
The Effect of a Community-Based Program on the Development of At-Risk Preschoolers
Author Affiliations
  • Long Island University
  • Long Island University
Article Information
Early Intervention / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Prevention and Intervention
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
The Effect of a Community-Based Program on the Development of At-Risk Preschoolers
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515235. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO7087
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515235. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO7087
Abstract

Date Presented 4/18/2015

The Developmental Enhancement, Monitoring, and Screening (DEMS) program is an initiative that offers comprehensive services to at-risk families in the Brooklyn community by providing developmental enhancement activities to young children and educational training to their parents.

SIGNIFICANCE: The Developmental Enhancement, Monitoring, and Screening (DEMS) program for at-risk families is a community-based program that was developed on the basis of the Healthy People 2020 framework to increase the number of healthy young children to be ready for school. It offers comprehensive services to families at risk. Young children from families at risk have a higher chance of developmental delays that may be caused by environmental stressors placed on them. According to New York City health information, it is estimated that 15% of U.S. children have some form of developmental delays and that most developmental delays are not detected before the children reach school age. If this issue is left unaddressed, it can result in behavioral problems, school failure, and social–emotional problems in children, which can lead to significant societal problems.
The DEMS program was implemented to (1) assist in early identification of developmental delays and early referral via the method of developmental screening in young children of families at risk; (2) aid in the prevention of developmental delays by monitoring young children’s developmental progress through reassessments and facilitation of their developmental areas; and (3) provide educational training sessions of strategies to the parents/guardians so that they can better understand, monitor, and address their child’s developmental concerns at home.
METHOD: In this study, we used a quasi-experimental research design. Twenty-six children aged 1 to 5 yr from at-risk families were recruited from an Early Head Start program in a Brooklyn, New York, community. All participants received the DEMS program, including 8 wk of enhancement activities once a week for 30-min sessions at their Early Head Start school. Before the enhancement activities were implemented, we screened the children using the Denver Developmental Screening Test—II (Denver–II). If they were found to have developmental delays, they were then referred to recommended local early intervention or other special educational services. We reevaluated all children using the Denver–II at Week 4 and at Week 8 to check their developmental progress. Additionally, the parents received two 1-hr educational training sessions to learn about children’s developmental milestones and strategies that can be used to monitor and address developmental concerns about their children. We analyzed the data using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: The DEMS program has proven to be a successful community-based initiative that helps to identify developmental delays, monitor progress, and enhance at-risk children’s development in all areas. This community-based program was implemented on the basis of the Healthy People 2020 framework, which focuses on reducing health disparities and improving the health of infants and toddlers of families at risk. Occupational therapy can play a significant role in primary care through health prevention and improvement of the health and well-being of children and families in the community.