Universal Developmental Screening


Girls playing with chalk

“It is so nice to finally have a tool that is simple, fun to do, and useful to both teachers and families when talking about a child’s development. Not to mention, when we used to have a concern about a child’s development, it could came across as our “opinion” or subjective. Now we have an objective way to share what we are seeing with families and have a conversation about a plan or next steps.” 


–ECE Professional and Project LAUNCH participant


Implementing Vermont’s System for Universal Developmental Screening (Birth to 8 Years) 

Over the past few years, VCHIP has provided intensive quality improvement (QI) coaching and support to pediatric-serving medical homes to improve screening, timely referrals, and improve early identification of developmental delays. In 2013, through Project LAUNCH, VCHIP expanded this work to include promoting screening and improved communication and coordination around child development with families among Early Care and Education professionals. In collaboration with Vermont Birth to Five and with funding from The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, VCHIP is now expanding this work statewide through the spread of Vermont’s Systems for Universal Developmental Screening.

What is Vermont’s System for Universal Developmental Screening?

To lay the groundwork for the expansion of developmental screening into Early Care and Education (ECE) programs, VCHIP engaged a diverse group of more than 35 partners (e.g. ECE professionals, pediatricians and family physicians, early interventionists, public health professionals, and teachers) to develop a shared vision for Vermont’s System for Universal Developmental Screening (UDS). Over the course of several months, VCHIP facilitated three Workgroup Meetings where stakeholders developed a shared vision, common definitions, a framework and process map, and a resulting set of policy recommendations to advance developmental screening in Vermont. In addition, stakeholders agreed that the system for universal developmental screening would be initiated across multiple settings, by a trained workforce, utilizing a brief, standardized tool at periodic intervals and any time a concern is identified. Vermont’s System for Universal Developmental Screening (UDS) was piloted in Chittenden County through Project LAUNCH and is now being spread statewide. Refer to the UDS Framework HMG VT for more information.

Vermont Project LAUNCH

VCHIP is a funded partner of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health), a grant program of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Building Bright Futures. Project LAUNCH promotes the wellness of young children, ages birth to 8 by improving the systems that serve young children, with the goal of helping all children reach physical, social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral milestones. Through Project LAUNCH, and in collaboration with Building Bright Futures, VCHIP is providing technical assistance and quality improvement training to medical homes and early care and education programs in Chittenden County (catchment area of grant) to develop universal developmental and behavioral screening practices in support of early identification of children with/at risk for developmental delays. In addition, VCHIP has developed a quality improvement (QI) project on universal developmental and behavioral health screening for Chittenden County primary care practices in support of universal developmental screening. 

Statewide Dissemination of Vermont’s System for Universal Developmental Screening

Through a partnership with Vermont Birth to Five, with funding from The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, VCHIP has expanded the work under Project LAUNCH beyond Chittenden County, to include family home and center-based early care and education programs statewide. All ECE programs in a designated region will be eligible to apply and VCHIP plans to support up to 25 center-based and 50 home-based programs annually.

The quality improvement training model VCHIP uses allows several ECE programs to be trained simultaneously in a process that facilitates a practical, step-wise approach to implementing new developmental screening practices and the development of policies, procedures, and systems to support screening, effective communication with families, and connections to community resources and referral agencies. The model is collaborative and promotes networking and sharing across ECE sites and among ECE professionals with varying experiences/backgrounds, thus it can lead to significant increases in ECE professional’s knowledge, skills, and capacity to assess each child’s developmental progression. VCHIP provides training and technical assistance to ECE programs by recruiting teams from each site to participate in three in-person collaborative training sessions together with ongoing mentoring and support. Between each in-person training session, VCHIP provides monthly coaching and technical assistance as teams implement screening tools, enhance their communication with families around child development, and develop new systems within their programs to support more comprehensive developmental care for children 0-8 years. Click here to view an example of the Project Timeline 


Open Now: Center and home-based ECE programs in the Bennington and Rutland AHS districts who would like to enroll or find out more, please contact Rebecca Webb. Cohorts to begin October 2017.

Open Now: Center and home-based ECE programs in the Rutland/Middlebury AHS districts who would like to enroll or find out more, please contact Rebecca Webb. Cohorts to begin January 2018.

Open Now: Center and home-based ECE programs in Chittenden County can find out more information by contacting Lauren Smith.


  • 139 Early Care and Education programs (center and home-based) are or have received training and quality improvement (QI) coaching
  • Over 4,094 families have been impacted by enhanced collaboration and communication among families and ECE professionals
  • 430 ECE professionals have received training and support to implement structured developmental screening tools in their programs using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire ©
  • 74 ECE programs have implemented structured, social-emotional screening with the children they serve
  • Families report receiving more frequent information from their child’s ECE program regarding developmental milestones and expectations. Families have also shared that they feel that Parent Teacher Conference time has become more meaningful, particularly for infants, when the conversations are around developmental screening results. Finally, families who have had the opportunity to complete the ASQ-3© at home reported that the time spent completing the activities was enjoyable for both the family member as well as the child.
  • Since September 2014, 1185 screenings have been conducted.
  • Participating programs have developed and/or shared program policies for developmental screening frequency and scope; ongoing professional development for staff around using the ASQ-3© and/or ASQ:SE2©, ongoing professional development on culturally and linguistically competent care, processes for following up with families and/or referral sources if a developmental concerns is identified as a result of the ASQ-3© and/or ASQ:SE2©.


"We plan to apply this training to better our screenings. We will be placing them (ASQ-3 questionnaires) in our new family packets and continuing on throughout the year. Thank you for giving us the tools to do so."

                                                                                               -ECE Professional and Vermont Birth to Five cohort participant

Help Me Grow

Help Me Grow is an effective, efficient system that helps states implement universal developmental surveillance, screening and detection for all children through age eight, and then link families to existing community-based programs. Help Me Grow (HMG) proactively addresses families’ concerns about their child’s behavior, development and learning by making a connection to community- based programs, services and high quality parent education resources. Find more information on this innovative national network (25 states now including Vermont) at http://www.helpmegrowvt.org. The Help Me Grow system does not supplant existing resources – it connects them better, particularly in the cross sectors of healthcare, early care and education and family services. Read our Help Me Grow Vermont story and view our HMG Report Card here. The Help Me Grow Vermont system leverages unique and exceptional partners including:

Evaluation of the Help Me Grow Vermont System

In addition to supporting universal developmental screening, VCHIP also evaluates the impact of the Help me Grow Vermont (HMG VT) system. This evaluation includes assessing data gathered about universal developmental screening, as well as measuring other activities focused on improving the health and educational readiness of children across the state. More information about this evaluation and the most recent HMG VT Report Card are available here.

Child Care Wellness Consultants

The Child Care Wellness Consultant program, a partnership between the Vermont Agency of Human Services and the Vermont Child Care Industry and Careers Council (VCCICC), is providing training on health and nutrition to early childhood professionals. The role of the Child Care Wellness Consultant is to work collaboratively with providers to promote the health and development of children, families, and providers and to ensure a healthy and safe child care environment. Child Care Wellness Consultants are Registered Nurses who have specialized knowledge of health and safety standards and best practices for child care programs. For more information dial 2-1-1 to reach a HMG Child Development Specialist who can connect child care providers with a nurse consultant in their region.


Project Contacts

Lauren Smith, LCMHC

Becca Webb, MEd

Barb Frankowski, MD, MPH