Pretend City Children’s Museum
Teaching parents about children’s developmental stages through creative use of ASQ.
In the heart of Irvine, CA, there’s a pint-sized indoor city built just for kids. At the nonprofit Pretend City Children’s Museum, little visitors can shop for play food at the grocery store, examine X-rays in the doctor’s office, splash in the marina, and even plant and harvest vegetables in rubber “mulch.” With 17 interactive exhibits—including a kid-sized post office, restaurant, farm, stage, fire station, beach, and art studio—there’s no limit to the creative fun children and parents can have in an afternoon at the museum.
But Pretend City is more than just a good time—its mission is to “build better brains through fun, whole body learning experiences” that enhance children’s early development. That goal is echoed in Pretend City’s innovative county-wide child development initiative, Good To Go From Head To Toe. Launched in 2009, Good To Go From Head To Toe educates Orange County parents and caregivers about healthy child development and the importance of regular developmental screenings for young children.
Getting parents comfortable
“One of our initial tasks was to change the overall community perception of developmental screenings,” says Tiffany Dobson, Developmental Screening Coordinator at Pretend City. “When the initiative launched, many parents were still unfamiliar with developmental screenings or had a negative perception about them.” ASQ was an ideal choice for them: a reliable, parent-friendly tool that was easy to complete.
To make it as simple as possible for parents to fill out an ASQ questionnaire, Good To Go From Head To Toe opted for an ASQ Pro account plus online questionnaire completion through ASQ Family Access. By clicking a button on the Pretend City website that links up with ASQ Family Access, parents can access a free questionnaire, complete it in minutes, and submit it with just a few clicks. Paper questionnaires are also readily available at the museum itself: near the entrance is a wall of colorful, clearly marked bins with ASQ-3 questionnaires for each age and prepaid envelopes parents can use to return completed questionnaires. (As an extra incentive, all parents who fill out a questionnaire—whether they do it on paper or online—get a free ticket to Pretend City!)
Follow-up and results
After parents complete an ASQ questionnaire, Dobson quickly follows up. She reviews and scores all of the questionnaires and sends each parent a customized response. If the child’s screening results fall within the “above” range, parents get a letter, a screening results summary, and a developmentally appropriate activity sheet in the mail. When screening results fall within the “monitoring” or “below” range, Dobson personally calls the parent to discuss the results and address any questions about the child’s development. If there are areas of concern, Dobson suggests a referral to Help Me Grow Orange County, a local resource and referral agency, for further evaluation. She also sends parents a customized letter, screening results summary, and specific developmental activity sheets that target the areas of concern.
Since Good To Go From Head To Toe started their ASQ initiative, they’ve seen great results. In a typical month, Dobson receives about 275 completed questionnaires in the mail and online. She says that parents “find the developmental screening quite helpful and informative” and “value the reassurance given to them in regards to their child’s development.” Judging from the positive feedback she gets from parents who complete the questionnaires, she believes the ASQ initiative has “helped enhance parents’ awareness of developmental milestones their children should be reaching, and assisted in providing the necessary support and resources to help them do so.”
Still to come
To expand their ASQ screening initiative so it helps as many families as possible, Good To Go From Head To Toe is planning some exciting next steps. They’re partnering with several pediatricians’ offices and the local chapter of the AAP to distribute ASQ packets at specific well-child visits—9, 18, 24, and 36 months. They’re also planning to add a feature to their upcoming Good To Go iPhone app that will send alerts to parents when a child is ready for the next ASQ screening.
With the ASQ screening program—and the whole Good To Go From Head To Toe initiative—Pretend City is making it easier than ever to catch developmental delays early, connect Orange County children with the services they need, and help parents play a key role in nurturing their child’s development.