The COVID-19 Pandemic took a toll on families. Economic and workforce insecurity, health concerns, education and child care arrangements constantly required parents to adapt quickly when caring for their families’ daily needs. While everyone was dealing with stress and mental health issues, our youngest children experienced an increased level of developmental concerns that understandably could be based on a more sedentary and virtual level of engagement. Without access to play groups, preschool, child care, 4K and other social and educational activities during COVID, young children ages 0-5 in the Fox Valley struggled to achieve positive developmental milestone gains in Fine Motor, Communication and Problem-Solving areas of the ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire) developmental screening tool. Hit especially hard were children ages 24-42 months. (First 5 Fox Valley, 2021)
Why is this important information? When children do not have regular developmental screening, concerns are not monitored and it takes longer to meet school readiness goals. Children need social interaction, physical activity, safe and healthy living spaces, and opportunities to hear stories and play with friends. Our youngest children can quickly make gains, but it takes a community that empowers and supports every family to build a solid foundation for children in their first five years.
Over the next several months, First 5 Fox Valley along with our community partners will engage in more intentional outreach - both to the general population and health professionals to encourage families and providers to conduct and expand regular screenings so that any delays can be identified early. First 5 Fox Valley and its partners can offer families and providers simple tools and activities to use to enhance and promote key developmental gains.