Promote the overall physical, social, emotional, and intellectual health of young children.
Decades of research support the benefits of early intervention for children with identified health, developmental, social, emotional, behavioral, speech, vision, and other special needs, yet some children are “missed” and enter kindergarten not having had their special need identified or treated. Developmental screening at recommended intervals with a validated tool is the gateway to critical early intervention services when needed. Physical health, including maintaining a healthy weight, is important for a child’s long-term health and well-being. Obesity is associated with many negative health conditions, including Type II diabetes, heart disease, and depression. And we are learning that prevention is critical given the difficulty of lasting weight loss. Furthermore, dental decay is the most common childhood disease and it is preventable. Therefore, we will measure our progress on children’s health and development by tracking early identification and intervention, obesity, and dental health.
Comprehensive Health and Development 1: Lower the age of early identification of children with developmental, social, emotional, behavioral, speech, vision and other special needs.
To be measured by:
- Percentage of kindergartners whose teacher believes the child had a developmental delay or special need, but the child did not have an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and is not receiving special education services.
- Percentage of Orange County children with Medi-Cal coverage who received six or more well-child visits in the first 15 months of life.
Value of measure: This measure provides insight into how well the service system identifies and responds to children’s developmental needs. Children’s developmental delays can be addressed best when they are discovered early. Identifying and addressing developmental needs prior to school entry leads to children being more likely to enter school ready to learn and succeed. Since teachers are not necessarily able to identify health needs, such as poor vision, the HEDIS measure regarding well-child checks serves as a proxy for health screening.
Comprehensive Health and Development 2: Reduce disparities in rates of obesity among children.
To be measured by: Percentage of fifth grade students who have obesity, by race/ethnicity, according to California Department of Education.
Value of measure: Access to healthy food, safe parks, and walkable neighborhoods can improve diet and activity levels, but not all children in Orange County have equal access to these amenities, which contributes to disparities. Given the link between obesity and many chronic diseases, prevention can improve children’s overall mental and physical health as they grow into adulthood.
Comprehensive Health and Development 3: Increase the percentage of young children who have seen a dentist.
To be measured by: Percentage of Medi-Cal eligible children ages 3-5 years who had a dental visit in the past year, according to the Orange County Oral Health Needs Assessment.
Value of measure: Building good oral health habits, including regularly visiting the dentist, can help prevent caries, the most common disease in children.