Introduction: Developmental vulnerabilities in pre-school aged children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds with low English proficiency are less likely to be identified through universal developmental surveillance. Barriers include low parental health literacy and low rates of attendance to mainstream child and family health services. Late detection of developmental vulnerabilities can have lifelong impacts on life trajectory.
Method: Integrated outreach early childhood developmental surveillance was trialled in South East Sydney by local health services with non-government organisations (NGO) delivering early childhood education and support. NGO staff were trained in Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®), a validated developmental screening tool to explore parental/carer and provider concerns . Families with children identified with developmental concerns by NGO staff were referred to co-located or visiting Child and Family Health Nurses (CFHN), community child health, speech pathology or developmental services for developmental screening, assessment and/or care planning.
Results: Integrated health and NGO services improved access to developmental surveillance for CALD families in a non-threatening environment enabled by co-locating CFHN, or through visits by paediatric medical/speech pathology staff to participating playgroups.
Conclusions and discussion: Integration supported vulnerable families from CALD backgrounds to access developmental surveillance through child and family health services but required flexibility and adjustments by all involved.