Children’s Developmental Center assists families virtually and in person during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for many families who need support for children with developmental disabilities. At Southwest Human Development, our team has worked hard to adapt to the present circumstances. The Children’s Developmental Center created some systematic changes to help carry out its mission while keeping health and safety in mind.

Serving families with children from birth to 5 years old, the center’s “One Child, One Family, One Team” approach is designed to help get children the specific care they need in one place. The center’s professional team of pediatric specialists provides integrated care where team members meet regularly, collaborate and ensure that all advice, evaluations and treatments are coordinated.

The Children’s Developmental Center did not practice telemedicine prior to the pandemic. As COVID-19 cases began to rise in early 2020, the center quickly pivoted to become an approved telehealth practitioner for evaluation, assessment and on-going service delivery. The clinic is also one of few community providers that identify, train and implement approved autism evaluation protocols for telepractice. 

For many families, access to digital technology and internet service is limited. To combat this, the center offered a smart phone loan program to allow any family the opportunity to engage in telehealth autism evaluations.

“Our clinical coordinator was a critical driving force for this success,” said Tina Martin, assistant director of Services for Children with Disabilities. “Children at risk and on the spectrum have responded very well to telehealth services. Engagement has increased and children continue to show developmental progress.”

In October, the program began in-clinic autism evaluations on a limited basis using CDC-recommended safety practices to serve children and their families who were screened as candidates for successful telehealth evaluations.

For more information about the Children’s Developmental Center, visit swhd.org/cdc, call (602) 468-3430 or email cdcenter@swhd.org.