There are blocks, books and even things to climb on. In fact, it looks a lot like a typical preschool classroom, but this particular room is unique. This special screening center is allowing professionals in the Phoenix Elementary School District to observe and interact with young children in an effort to identify developmental delays.
Their approach is a vast departure from previous methods, which typically saw students sitting at a desk in an office, with adult-centric review. But here, they’re able to interact with peers and be comfortable in an environment that’s designed for them.
On the Faith North School campus, the Child Find center is screening as many as 100 kids every year. Parents are encouraged to bring their child, ages 3-5, in for an assessment by a group of professionals, including a psychologist and speech, physical and occupational therapists. There is even a nurse on the team, to help assess potential vision and hearing problems.
The goal is simple: identify any developmental challenges early and create a plan to address them. With expert staff, they can assess for potential delays related to speech and language, development or other, more severe delays. This approach to assessing students’ delays has been developing for the last seven years. Their play-based, child-directed approach incorporates teachers from the district, allowing them to have an advance look at the youngsters who might soon be in their classes.
Once a personal evaluation has been completed, the Child Find staff will meet with parents to discuss next steps and the best options for moving forward. That might mean a specialized school, such as the Phoenix Day School For the Deaf, or a general education classroom with personalized guidance.
Having this dedicated space, with staff who are exclusively focused on young children, the Child Find Center is making great inroads into helping parents, and educators, better understanding kids and their educational, social and emotional needs. The early intervention allows parents and educators to set each child on the path to success.