Healthy Steps for Young Children: Sustained Results at 5.5 Years
A low-cost program designed to enhance the delivery of childhood behavioral and developmental services was found to have lasting benefits on quality of care for young families and other positive parenting behaviors more than two years post intervention, according to a Commonwealth Fund-supported study published in the September issue of Pediatrics.
Healthy Steps for Young Children is a universal, practice-based intervention that incorporates developmental specialists and enhanced developmental services into pediatric care in the first three years of life.
The objective of this study, led by Cynthia S. Minkovitz, M.D., M.P.P., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was to assess whether Healthy Steps has sustained effects well after services are provided.
The responses indicated that the effects of Healthy Steps were sustained in the following areas: parents’ experiences seeking health care for their child, parents’ responses to their child’s misbehavior, encouragement of daily reading, and perceptions of behavior.
Parental discipline practices, overall, were more favorable among the families participating in Healthy Steps.
For example, a smaller percentage (10.1%) of intervention families ever slapped their child in the face or spanked him or her with an object, as compared with families in the control group (14.1%).
More than 59 percent reported that their child looked at or read books in the past week, versus less than 54 percent of control families.
Intervention families also reported more favorable experiences seeking health care for their children; for example, Healthy Steps families were more likely to receive anticipatory guidance that matched their preferences than did control families (54.9% vs. 49.2%).