Childhood Development Screening Connects Parents to Life-Changing Resources

by chrismcgregor
Categories: Divisional News

A new innovative infant and child mental health and wellness initiative at The Salvation Army Bethany Hope Centre in Ottawa aims to give parents of young children access to the highest level of specialized care and treatment.

The program for children from birth to age 6 being raised by parents 29 years and under enables trained expert infant and child development workers to identify early concerns in the areas of communication, problem solving, gross and fine motor skills, and social and emotional growth.

A mom of a three-year-old had her child screened by an infant and child development team member.

“I can already see my child’s fine motor skills getting better with the activities given she can now draw a circle and squeeze glue,” the mom says.

Another mom, raising a six-year-old with autism, asked for an on-site assessment of her 10-month-old baby.

“It helps that the playroom staff can do the screening, so I know if my child is meeting the milestones. My oldest has autism so I worry about the baby,” she says.

Since the start of the program in January 2023 and February 2024, staff have completed assessments on 48 children, with referrals made to Bethany Hope’s Safe Care program, and to external community nurses, family doctors, and speech and language pathologists.

Screening tools give staff the opportunity to ensure that a child’s age specific milestones are being met, allowing for the creation of a plan to give them the best possible chance for success.

“We know that a child’s brain matures quickest within the first six years of their life, so infant and early childhood development is extremely important to their future health and wellness,” says Sandra Randall, executive director of Bethany Hope Centre.

“This helps parents feel empowered and informed about their child’s advancement, with the knowledge of what to watch for as children grow. When there is early detection of potential concerns, early intervention means better outcomes later in life.”

Free referrals are available to service partners like Pinecrest Queensway Community Centre, which runs First Words, a speech and language program for preschoolers.

Please visit or more information about these or many other programs to help children in Ottawa reach their full potential.