Research consistently shows the first three years of a baby’s life are a period of incredible growth and development. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants receive eight well-child visits in their first 15 months of life. These appointments allow health care providers to monitor their development and recommend early interventions, as needed. These visits also help ensure children and their families have access to the reliable grid of resources they need to thrive. In Arkansas, nearly 90% of infants and toddlers on Medicaid had at least one pediatric checkup in 2019,making physician offices an ideal location to reach many low-income families.
Enter HealthySteps. A ZERO TO THREE program, HealthySteps is focused on connecting infants and toddlers, particularly those in low-income communities, with primary care providers. Participating physician’s offices hire a HealthySteps Specialist who is dedicated to developing relationships with local families, so practices can better identify and meet children’s needs. HealthySteps offices offer patients (and their families) child development and family need screenings. If therapies or resources are needed, the specialists then help coordinate the appropriate care and support.
In other states, HealthySteps has shown to increase well-child visit attendance, vaccinations, developmental screenings, and services for delays brought to light by those screenings. With the support of the program’s specialists, parents are also more likely to provide their children with age appropriate nutrition, safe home environments, and early literacy engagement activities.