Growing Strong with ASQ Online: HMG Michigan’s Statewide Screening Successes
What happens when a state really commits to using ASQ® Online to help meet ambitious developmental screening goals? For real-world answers, let’s look in on Michigan, where Help Me Grow Oakland County was the very first ASQ Online account to celebrate the milestone of 100,000 screens in 2019!
The ever-expanding Help Me Grow Michigan initiative has been using ASQ Online for more than 10 years to promote regular screenings and help young children get the best possible start in life. Their impressive—yet achievable—success story is one that every state can learn from.
How HMG chose ASQ Online
Help Me Grow (HMG) is a collaborative system with a critical mission: to identify kids at risk for delays and help families find the right services for their child. That mission is catching on nationwide—32 states have become HMG affiliates, and Michigan is one of them.
One of Help Me Grow’s major objectives is to promote regular developmental screening with tools like ASQ®. To reach their screening goals, the HMG Michigan team needed to answer a key question: How do we coordinate screenings with our multiple community partners and integrate and manage all our data? After exploring their options, they knew ASQ Online was the solution they were looking for. The ASQ® Enterprise option, which is tailored to the needs of programs with multiple sites, would be just what they needed to:
- easily manage all their screenings across multiple community partners
- organize and analyze their data
- raise their screening rates by allowing parents to complete questionnaires online (through ASQ® Family Access)
The validity and reliability of ASQ was also a big benefit, as was the fact that ASQ is a parent-completed screener. What better way to engage families and make the most of their expertise?
HMG Michigan counties
Massive growth: 350,000 screens and counting
Over the next several years, an initial HMG pilot in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties expanded to include more Michigan counties (see a full list in the sidebar). As the initiative grew, the new counties also established ASQ Online accounts. Online screening was a key part of the comprehensive services they offered to young children and families, which included:
- Free online developmental screening with ASQ®-3 and ASQ®:SE-2
- Child development information and support for families of young children
- Care coordination, referral, and follow-up services
- Customized template letters to parents detailing screening results and what they mean
- Activities for each developmental domain to increase positive interaction and developmental promotion
How successful has this initiative been so far? Across ten years of project operations, HMG Michigan has seen massive growth in the number of completed ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2 screenings. Once HMG Michigan started using ASQ Online, they had an easy and efficient way to track how many children were being screened across the state. In 2010, Help Me Grow Oakland County entered 2,300 screens—but ten years later, more than 350,000 cumulative screens (and counting) have been tracked across 12 Enterprise accounts. Hundreds of community partners have entered 202,487 children in the system, meaning that more than 202,000 unique children have been screened. These impressive statistics help make Michigan one of the top 5 states screening with ASQ Online in the country!
Kelly Isrow, Coordinator of Great Start Collaborative Macomb, attributes the success of Help Me Grow and the rising numbers of developmental and social-emotional screens to the multiple partnerships within the county, which give parents easy access to information about Help Me Grow and the ability to complete ASQ-3 or ASQ:SE-2 questionnaires conveniently. “With all of our partners supporting this initiative, one of our greatest achievements has been our parent-to-parent outreach and recommendation,” says Isrow. “Parents have been the key to continued screening, keeping children on task for school readiness, supporting infant and toddler development, and sharing developmentally appropriate practices from intervention strategies provided. In addition, our parent screeners have been instrumental in reaching the diverse populations of our county and offering an autonomous way of supporting early childhood development.”
Veronica Pechumer, Help Me Grow State Lead and Coordinator, Great Start Collaborative Oakland, elaborates on the successful collaborative process among Help Me Grow affiliates in Michigan. “We meet quarterly to share what is working and ask questions of each other to determine best practices,” says Pechumer. “We are always willing to share and support each other’s work, which draws in other communities with like goals. Developmental screening has been a large part of this work, along with central access and ensuring that families receive the resources they need.”
“An incredible asset”: How ASQ Online benefits HMG
Over the past decade, ASQ Online has helped HMG Michigan:
- Identify children with developmental concerns and connect them to further evaluation and community resources
- Help families understand, document, and maintain their child’s developmental history
- Encourage early childhood professionals to use screening as a first indicator of potential developmental delay
- Build reliable community data that they can use for future planning and advocacy efforts
How did HMG Michigan make progress toward these important goals? Two components of ASQ Online—Enterprise and Family Access—worked together seamlessly to help professionals, children, and families. Here’s how:
ASQ Enterprise gave HMG Michigan what they needed most: a comprehensive data integration system. Using 12 ASQ Enterprise accounts, HMG Michigan affiliates were able to create and manage all their child and program data, store child profile records and results, and generate an automated summary and analysis of results. HMG Michigan now had access to detailed and reliable data on children’s development status and trajectory. The team could easily access varying levels of data by program, building, age group, community, and countywide. Enterprise users also appreciated the convenient age calculator, interval selection, and automated scoring and generation of summary sheets.
ASQ Family Access
Adding ASQ Family Access was a boon for HMG Michigan—now they could give parents an easy way to complete developmental screening questionnaires online. Having this online questionnaire option reduced copying and mailing costs, saving both money and time.
The Family Access option has been a big draw for both child care and doctor office partners. Courtney Gupta, HMG Care Coordinator in Oakland County, shares their experience: “We were able to onboard a new pediatrician who had been doing paper copies of the ASQ and was so excited to use Family Access. The office manager knew more parents would be likely to complete it if they could do it from the convenience of their phone instead of remembering to bring in a paper copy. She also mentioned that because it’s automatically scored, the pediatrician has more time to address the results in real time. Ultimately, the convenience of Family Access means more families are getting the results from their trusted pediatricians and therefore more likely to get connected to resources.”
Early childhood professionals and teachers in Michigan sing the praises of online questionnaire completion through Family Access. “I love keeping families in the loop by sending the link so they can do ASQ at their convenience,” says Heather Moroni, Lead Infant Teacher. And best of all, parents love it too. Responses to Help Me Grow surveys show how receptive parents have been to ASQ Family Access:
- “This screening is a great tool for parents to use.”
- “The questions made me more knowledgeable about my son’s development. He’s our first child, so it’s great to see he’s on track!”
- “I found the process to be easy to complete and self-explanatory.”
- “I have been very pleased with this tool as well as the follow-up. I recommend it to everyone I know with children.”
Another benefit of Family Access was the treasure trove of resources it allowed programs to distribute to families. The ASQ learning activities available through Family Access were invaluable resources for parents, helping them enhance the growth and development of their young children between screenings. HMG Michigan affiliates also found ASQ Family Access to be an excellent platform for distributing additional family engagement activities, including e-newsletters, re-screen reminders, and other developmental materials.
And “many more”: Navigating 2020 and looking ahead with hope
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold in the first months of 2020, HMG Michigan faced unprecedented challenges—which ASQ Online helped them navigate efficiently.
Stephanie Babcock, HMG Care Coordinator for Wayne County, says that phasing out paper ASQ questionnaires in favor of ASQ Online over the past few years put them in a good position to face the challenges of 2020. When the pandemic hit and providers, medical partners, and parents were forced to stay home, they were already familiar with ASQ Online. “Not having to learn another system on top of the many online platforms being utilized made completing an ASQ an easy, continuous process,” says Babcock. “Laying the foundation for partners to use the online system pre-pandemic made for a smoother transition to completing ASQ for children at home. And with ASQ Online, results are sent directly and confidentially to parents, where they can share with stakeholders in their child’s care electronically.”
Babcock also points to the benefits of the ASQ learning activities: “Every ASQ we sent also included ideas for free or low-cost developmental activities that caregivers could work on: ideas on how to play with their children during quarantine, and in some cases, spend more time playing with little ones than they ever had before.”
In order to keep using ASQ to track development and gather the data needed to connect families to additional support services, HMG Michigan counties got creative during the pandemic. For example, Allegan County moved the screening component of their biannual Books, Balls, and Blocks events online using their HMG website. Families were given access to free ASQ-3 questionnaires online, which helped them maintain awareness of their child’s strengths and weaknesses within key developmental domains. Care coordinators reviewed children’s data, provided parents with developmental activities to help their kids thrive, and made referrals when delays were detected. “We had 69 assessments filled out this past fall for our virtual Books, Balls, and Blocks event in October 2020,” says Rebecca Huberty, Coordinator of Great Start Collaborative Allegan. “This is considered good for our county. I would say it was a success offering virtual Books, Balls, and Blocks events during a pandemic.”
For more than a decade, and throughout some of the most challenging times in recent history, ASQ Online has been a cornerstone of Help Me Grow Michigan’s success. Reaching the milestone of 350,000 screens was just the beginning for Michigan—this team looks forward to many more years of using ASQ to help all young children get the best start in life.
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