Universal Developmental Screening – An Update from DOH

Marilyn Dold
Universal Developmental Screening Consultant

Washington State Department of Health

WCAAP and the American Academy of Pediatrics place developmental screening right up there with immunizations as essential preventive care even during shelter in place. In fact, developmental screening is potentially more important now than it has ever been as children’s lives have been disrupted and they may not be spending time with other children, making it harder for parents to recognize potential developmental concerns. Reluctance to visit a provider during the pandemic may mean children aren’t getting screened, and that those who have a developmental concern aren’t getting the needed follow up care.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shares this concern and has been working to establish a statewide Universal Developmental Screening (UDS) data registry to track developmental screenings birth through age five. The project received a major boost in April with approval by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to contract with an experienced vendor to build the system. It means some hard and fast work to meet the funding deadline, but the project team is optimistic and anticipates the initial version will go live Fall of 2021.

More good news: the state legislature’s final proposed budget for the next biennium includes funding for ongoing UDS support. If approved, the funding would enable the department to provide user support and engage with key early childhood partners to help increase screening rates, connection to supportive services, and health equity. And perhaps most encouraging of all for DOH is the continued engagement of key partners and stakeholders like WCAAP. The department thanks you for your partnership and support! Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children and families in Washington state.

Questions about the UDS project? Feel free to contact Edna Maddalena at emaddalena@wcaap.org or Marilyn Dold at marilyn.dold@doh.wa.gov.