Our goal was to determine if systematic use of a validated developmental screening instrument is feasible and improves the detection of developmental delay (DD) in a pediatric medical home for children in foster care.
This study had a pre-post study design, following a practice intervention to screen all children in foster care for DD by using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). The baseline detection rate was determined by medical chart review for all children aged 4 to 61 months who were new to foster care (NFC) during a 2-year period. After implementation of systematic screening, caregivers of young children who were NFC or already in foster care (IFC) completed the ASQ at preventive health care visits. We assessed the feasibility of systematic screening (the percentage of ASQs completed among the NFC and IFC groups). We compared the detection of DD among the baseline NFC group and the screening-NFC group by using bivariate and multivariable logistic regression.
Of 261 visits that occurred after initiation of screening, 251 (96%) visits had a completed ASQ form in the medical chart, demonstrating high feasibility. Among children who were NFC, the detection of DD was higher in the screening than baseline period for the entire population (58% vs 29%; P < .001), for each age group (infants: 37% vs 14%; toddlers: 89% vs 42%; preschool: 82% vs 44%; all P ≤ .01), and for all developmental domains. On adjusted analyses, the detection of potential DD in toddler and preschool children was higher among the NFC screening group than the NFC baseline group.
Systematic screening for DD using the ASQ was feasible and seemed to double the detection of DDs.