Child experts say the first five years of life are critical for building the foundation needed for success in school and life.
One tool parents can use to track their child's development is developmental screenings.
In Central and Western New York, "Help Me Grow" offices want to help parents do just that.
Meet 14-month-old Maximus Floyd Walker. Max and his mom Miranda took part in the early childhood development screening challenge, in partnership with the Early Childhood Alliance and "Help Me Grow."
What You Need To Know
- Help Me Grow in Onondaga County offers a chance to win $250 for giving your child two developmental screenings in April
- The five developmental domains are communication skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, social-emotional and problem solving
- Child experts say the first five years of life are critical for building the foundation needed for success in school and life
Miranda Walker is Maximus' mother.
"As a parent, it just reassures me that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do as a mother," she said. "I can't, I don't know if I'm teaching him everything. Who knows if you're teaching everything to your child? There is so much to teach. Parents should really look at screening their kids early on just to catch those signs, if there are any signs at all, just to make sure their child is hitting those critical milestones in the early years."
Laurie Black is director of the Early Childhood Alliance. She said parents of kids from birth to 5 years of age can use the Help Me Grow New York Ages & Stages Questionnaire online to see if their children are hitting developmental milestones.
"We know nationally that about one in four children are at risk for developmental delay. And so these screening tools are not an evaluation or assessment, but they do help parents kind of key in on what concerns they might have," Black said.
The five developmental domains are communications skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, social-emotional and problem solving.
Black said if there is a concern, they can then connect that family to services for help.
"One of the most frequent delays that children have is communication delays. So parents might start noticing around 2 years of age that their children aren't talking as much as others," said Black.
Walker said, "He is doing so well. He's just running and jumping. He's everywhere. Like, he literally talks all day long. There's no...He makes it, he basically, he makes his presence known in our house, you know, when Max is up!"
It's a collaboration to make sure children are off to their best possible start.
Help Me Grow has offices in Syracuse, Rochester, Greater Buffalo and Long Island. The screening takes about 15 minutes to complete.
In Onondaga County, Help Me Grow launched the Early Childhood Developmental Screening challenge. Families with children birth through 5 years of age could win $250 for completing two developmental screenings in April.