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Indicator 1 0 : Preschool child development

Goal: All children will be healthy and start school ready to learn. The early childhood years birth to age five are a critical period of growth and development. Learning begins with a healthy, nurturing start in life. This goal reflects the growing scientific understanding that a healthy pregnancy and early nurturing contribute to a child's brain development and later success in school.

Rationale: The developmental status of children just before they start school is a key indicator in showing progress toward this goal.

Percentage of children whose developmental skills are within normal ranges at early childhood screening

Year
199688.8%
199786.6%
199886.2%
199985.2%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning

Percentage of children referred for further assessment following early childhood screening

Year
199611.2%
199713.4%
199813.8%
199914.8%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning

Percentage of children placed in special education following early childhood screening

Year
19964.3%
19974.5%
19984.8%
19994.7%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning

About this indicator: The percentage of children assessed within the normal range decreased from 89 percent in 1996 to 85 percent in 1999.

Social, motor, cognitive, language and communication skills are all critical for children to get a good start in school. Minnesota requires screening of all children before they enter public school kindergarten, typically at age 3 to 4. According to the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, the purpose of early childhood screening is to detect conditions interfering with young children's growth and development and improve access to preventive health services. It also aims to increase parents' awareness of the connections between physical health, development and learning readiness and to link families to community services.

Each screening includes height, weight, hearing, vision, developmental skills, immunization review, identification of risk factors that may influence learning and a summary review with parents.

While the decline in the percentage of children whose developmental skills are within normal ranges may be of concern, early referrals for further assessment or special education increases their chance to get the help they need. According to the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, the decline could be partially related to more thorough screening. The proportion of children placed in special education has increased by less than 1 percentage point since 1996, while the proportion of children referred for further assessment has increased by 3 percentage points.

For comparison: No comparable figures are available from other states.

Things to think about: While Minnesota requires all children to be screened for school readiness before entering kindergarten, the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning would like more children to be screened earlier, since the sooner any issues are identified, the earlier children can receive help. [According to the Wilder Research Center, suburban children in the Twin Cities metro area are much more likely than central city children to be screened by age four.] The data excludes children screened through other sources such as Head Start and Child and Teen Checkup (Minnesota Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment).

Technical notes: Most screening is carried out by school districts with state reimbursement of $40 per child. The data excludes children screened through other sources such as Head Start and Child and Teen Checkup (Minnesota Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment).

Sources:

  • Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, http://cfl.state.mn.us
  • Wilder Research Center, Metro Trend Watch, www.metrotrendwatch.org

Related indicators:

Other related indicators:

  • Children placed in early childhood special education (Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, http://cfl.state.mn.us)
  • Age at which young children participate in Early Childhood Screening (Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, http://cfl.state.mn.us)
  • Percentage of children with possible hearing or vision problems (Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, http://cfl.state.mn.us)
  • Young children with limited English proficiency (Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, http://cfl.state.mn.us)
  • Children born with fetal alcohol syndrome (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Children under age six with high levels of lead in their blood (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us; Twin Cities neighborhood data: Hennepin and Ramsey County Health Departments)

Technical problems? Contact: demography.helpline@state.mn.us