Kimberly Broecker, Metro United Way (Kentucky and Indiana)
Kimberly Broecker is the ASQ Manager for Metro United Way, a community organization focused on solving community problems and fighting for the education, health and financial stability of people in seven counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
How did you first begin promoting ASQ screening?
In 2009, Metro United Way offered families throughout our seven-county region in Kentucky and Southern Indiana the opportunity to complete the ASQ-3 and ASQ-SE via mail. This was the beginning of a community-wide effort to determine how our youngest children were developing—with the ultimate goal of increasing kindergarten readiness.
Initially, we partnered with a local TV news channel that provided free PSAs and advertising on their station. We also took a shotgun approach and produced brochures and flyers which were provided to pediatricians, faith-based organizations, schools, and community health fairs and events. An Ages & Stages coordinator would attend kindergarten readiness fairs and community events, and provide literature for families on the benefits of the Ages & Stages Questionnaires.
The impact of these strategies was extremely low and the cost was high. In the first year, only 300 families in a region with over 83,000 children under the age of 6 completed the ASQ and none of the families completing the ASQ were from the highest need areas. Our promotional strategies have evolved over the years as we analyze data on demographics, sources, and completion/return rates.
In 2010, a grassroots ASQ initiative targeted the highest need, lowest income areas in this region. In 2012, Metro United Way began offering ASQ Online, and in 2016 the ASQ:SE was replaced by the ASQ:SE-2.
We now primarily focus on promoting ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2 through various health and social service agencies, media outlets, Neighborhood Outreach Specialists, and Metro United Way’s campaign representatives.
What are some of the methods you’ve used to get the word out about ASQ?
Partnerships with local social service agencies such as home visitors, our childcare resource and referral agency, childcare centers, our local libraries, outreach specialists (trusted peer advisors from specific neighborhoods), and already established parent groups have been key in getting the word out about the program.
We’ve produced promotional videos that highlight ASQ efforts in our community, and have created brochures and flyers that promote enrollment for pediatricians, religious organizations, and childcare centers.
Metro United Way has a vast social media following on have utilized these mediums to provide information on the importance of developmental screening and the availability of ASQ.
In addition, we offer families and caregivers the opportunity to complete the ASQ online.
It sounds like your promotional efforts are very involved—what has been most effective?
Our most effective way to get the word out has been a grassroots effort to meet families where they are. We established a network of neighborhood-based outreach specialists, known and trusted in their peer groups. They began to host “play and learn” groups, cultural events, and other activities where families from very low-income neighborhoods could come together in a fun, light atmosphere to learn and support each other. During these events, families complete ASQ. To recruit new families, Neighborhood Outreach Specialists stand at bus stops, go door to door, and meet and greet families in places like rent offices.
We have partnered with other agencies, especially home visitation programs, who already complete ASQ. This partnership has allowed us to enroll their clients in our program when they graduate from their program. We are also able to collect all data into one centralized database.
Most recently we have taken a more comprehensive approach and are working with several coalitions on the larger strategy of kindergarten readiness. We are working with the Ready for K Alliance—which is comprised of business leaders, school officials, religious organizations, health service agencies and pediatricians, social service agencies, and many more—to promote the importance of developmental screening and family engagement. This top-down method has been effective in engaging and educating the community on the need for developmental screeners.
During Metro United Way’s campaign, representatives from Metro United Way highlighted ASQ during their presentations with numerous companies around the community.
We also train what we like to call, “ASQ Champions.” These are individuals from other local agencies and groups who are passionate about early care, education, and the importance of developmental screenings. For example, these could be individuals from libraries and parent groups who can speak to their already established groups and enroll their families into the program.
What challenges did you face while promoting your program, and how did you overcome them?
Our major challenge has been balancing the success of our promotions and recruitment with the capacity of those who process the ASQ questionnaires. At times it has been necessary to limit the number of events and outreach to ensure all could be appropriately and accurately screened.
What has been your greatest success?
Our greatest successes are our partnerships with other organizations. Over the last eight years our partnerships and targeted outreach have allowed us to screen over 2,800 children in the seven zip codes identified as having the highest needs, and over 7,200 children throughout the seven county Metro United Way region.
What general advice would you give to others who want to begin promoting a screening program?
Consider a community health worker model in very low-income areas where workers deliver services through one-on-one interactions or in group sessions that take place in homes or community settings. By providing culturally appropriate outreach and services, they can play an important role in underserved communities.
Partnerships. Partner with your childcare resource and referral agencies, home visitation, housing authorities, etc. Partner with organizations who already use the ASQ, and provide them with support as well.
Start with where the parents are: mom’s clubs, libraries, pediatricians. Enlist the help of champions, people who believe in the program and in developmental screeners. Have them post on social media, talk to their friends, and promote within their own established groups. Never underestimate the power of social media.