Some children have extra challenges as they grow, and the sooner we can identify those challenges, the better. We want to ensure that every child and family in Milwaukee has access to an expert that can identify whether they could benefit from extra services. This way, all children in Milwaukee will begin kindergarten ready to learn.
We are working on enhanced approaches to screening and assessing young children for developmental and social-emotional concerns, with a focus on children of color and low income. The approach we are taking is through trusted Family Navigators who are trained to conduct developmental screenings. These Family Navigators connect families to needed services and walk them through the difficult conversations about their child’s development. They also provide “warm handoffs” (rather than “cold calls”) so families know the providers they are seeing are trusted.
In addition, we are developing better ways for families to get connected to early intervention services and supports that promote the best outcomes for young brains. As a starting point, we have developed the Next Step Clinic (featured in the video above and this article here).
The clinic is located within a trusted community partner: Next Door (29th & Meinecke) on the 2nd floor in the Family Success Center. The services are led by Family Navigators with the guidance of parent and community input through the Community Advisory Board. It is a practicum setting that is training our clinicians of the future in what works, especially racial equity. The clinic came about through strong partnerships that bring the assets of our community together to fill gaps of service.