The Mississippi Thrive! Child Health and Development Project is improving health outcomes for children

The Mississippi Thrive! Child Health and Development Project is improving health outcomes for children

About 100 new babies are born each day across Mississippi. During the first five years, children’s brains make more than one million neural connections every second. The foundation of the brain is established in these early years as children reach developmental milestones—like focusing their vision or gaining control over their muscles. Marking these milestones – at home and with health care professionals – is an important step to be sure a young child is developing correctly. 

While it’s fun to celebrate as children reach new milestones, it’s important to pay attention to any concerns one may have about a child’s development. One in six children experiences developmental delays. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends regular developmental screenings when children are 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months—or any time there is a concern. However, most children in Mississippi (70%) have not received a developmental screening. 

Detecting and addressing developmental delays early through developmental screenings and connecting a child with the appropriate supports can create better outcomes for the child’s future. 

To better support the development of young children from birth through age five, the Child Health and Development Project: Mississippi Thrive! is working to improve the statewide behavioral health system. Here’s how:

  1. Active promotion of healthy early brain development. Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers develop rapidly across many domains, like speech, hearing, vision, and social skills. This brain architecture is the structure for the skills and abilities children need in school and later life. Health care providers and early childhood professionals have a key role in laying the foundation for strong brain development.

  2. Regular, professional checks on children’s development. Fewer than one in three children in Mississippi receive a formal developmental evaluation from a health care provider. Low levels of developmental screening and monitoring means we are missing opportunities to take action early, when it would be most effective. Mississippi Thrive! is working to double the rate of developmental screening in our state.

  3. Connections to services when needed. When children don’t reach a developmental milestone at the time expected, it’s important to address the issue in a timely manner. Often there are simple supports that can boost the child’s progress. Mississippi Thrive! is working to make it easier and more efficient for primary care providers and families to work with specialists when needed.

The Child Health and Development Project: Mississippi Thrive! is moving into its fourth year of funding from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). Mississippi Thrive! is a project of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Children’s of Mississippi and Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center. 

Supporting developmental and behavioral health for young children in Mississippi

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