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Early Childhood Utah (ECU)

The Early Childhood Utah Program promotes and supports a strong foundation of health and wellbeing such that all Utah children enter school ready to learn and go on to lead healthy, happy and productive lives.

We accomplish this aim by:

  • Helping families and early childhood programs understand child developmental milestones and how to use the Ages and Stages Questionnaires®, third edition (ASQ®-3) and the Ages and Stages Questionnaires®: Social-Emotional, second edition (ASQ®:SE-2) to support optimal child development.
  • Developing data systems and data infrastructure in order to effectively collect, analyze and use data to drive smart and effective policy, funding and programmatic decisions.
  • Coordinating and facilitating the work of the Early Childhood Utah advisory council which brings statewide early childhood partners together to improve system wide collaboration and coordination to ensure young children enter school healthy and ready to learn.


Developmental Health & Screening

Child development refers to how a child grows, including physical, social-emotional, cognitive and language development. Child development consists of developmental milestones which are behaviors or sets of behaviors that indicate or "mark" developmental attainment and growth.

Children develop and grow at an accelerated rate in the first few years of life. By age three 80% of the adult brain is developed and much of the foundation for ongoing development and health is established.
Due to this accelerated rate of growth and development, it's easy to miss developmental red flags: this is why developmental screening is so critical.

It is important for all children to be screened for developmental milestones. The earlier developmental concerns are detected, the faster and easier they are to address. Early identification of potential concerns through developmental screening saves money, time and resources and helps children get back on track for learning and development so that they are happy, healthy and enter school ready to learn!

The Early Childhood Utah program within the Department of Health promotes developmental screening using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires®, third edition (ASQ®-3) and the Ages and Stages Questionnaires®: Social-Emotional, second edition (ASQ®:SE-2). The work is supported by the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) Impact grant, which is a five year federal grant (2016-2021) offered through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and includes three Placed-Based Community (PBC) teams: Ogden United Promise Neighborhood, The City of South Salt Lake, and San Juan County. In addition, the ECCS Impact Grant works very closely with state Maternal, Infant Child Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs and Help Me Grow Utah to empower local communities to build capacity and align services to positively impact parents who are expecting and families with young children.

About the ASQ®-3 and ASQ®: SE-2

The ASQ tools are screening tools designed to track a child's developmental progress. It is most effective when completed by the parent, in partnership with someone who can convey results and connect the parent to further information and resources.

ASQ®-3: A quick check on milestones for children from birth through age five and a half and considers five areas.

  • Communication
  • Fine Motor
  • Gross Motor
  • Personal-Social
  • Problem Solving
  • ASQ®: SE-2: Looks specifically at social and emotional development in children from birth to age six.

    Early Childhood Utah works with communities to connect parents to the ASQ®-3 and the ASQ®: SE-2. We do this in two ways:

  • First, by training early childhood professionals such as home visitors; nurses, early educators, doctors on developmental screening and using the ASQ tools. Trained professionals support parents in learning about child development, using the ASQ tools, learning about easy-to-use and fun strategies they can use to strengthen their child's development and linking families to needed services.
  • Second, when parents do not have access to the ASQ tools, or other developmental screening tools through their doctor's office or other local programs, we connect them to developmental screening through Help Me Grow Utah, which is a free, anonymous service that provides developmental screening, referral and follow up to families.
  • Are you a parent interested in using the ASQ?

    If you're interested in using the ASQ tools, or another developmental screening tool for your child, speak first with your pediatrician or other early childhood provider. If they don't use a developmental screening tool, such as the ASQ, we recommend connecting with Help Me Grow Utah, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to connecting Utah children and their families to developmental screening and local community resources to promote optimal child development.

    Are you interested in using and implementing the ASQ tools into your early childhood program?

    If you're interested in using the ASQ tools within your program and participating in our statewide ASQ screening Initiative, please contact Carrie Finkbiner. Early Childhood Utah Program Manager.

    The UDOH ASQ Privacy Policy and Consent to Use of Data can be found here.

    Early Childhood Integrated Data System

    States have many early childhood programs, services and data systems. Systems that bring together these multiple data sources through collection, integration, maintenance, storage, and reporting are called Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS). Integrated data systems have become increasingly important as states look to better understand how to best support young children and their families to yield lifelong success in the areas of health, well-being, learning, relationships and employment. Utah is no exception.

    The mission of the Utah's ECIDS is to better coordinate policy, programming, and funding among all participating programs in Utah through data-driven decision making. To accomplish this aim, the Utah ECIDS works with early childhood programs across Utah to secure data use agreements and to align and strengthen data systems in order to integrate early childhood services data. Once the data is integrated, it's easier to study and understand.

    The goals of ECIDS are:

    • provide data that is timely, relevant, accessible, and easy to use in order to answer key policy questions regarding early childhood programs and services;
    • promote data-driven decision making related to funding, programming and policy;
    • improve programmatic and system-wide coordination and collaboration;
    • evaluate long term outcomes for children; and
    • improve child outcomes and the quality of early childhood programs.

    The data integration project will facilitate the use of data to address five broad policy questions:


    • Are children birth to age 5 on track to succeed when they enter school?
    • Which children and families are and are not being served by which programs and services?
    • What characteristics of programs are associated with positive outcomes for which children?
    • What are the education and economic returns on early childhood investments?
    • How is data being used now and how will data be used in the future to inform policy and resource decisions?

    All personally identifiable information is removed from ECIDS reports and research publications. Comprehensive measures have been taken to ensure the privacy and security of ECIDS data.

    For more information on Utah's ECIDS program please contact Stephen Matherly.

    Early Childhood Utah Advisory council

    In September 2011, Governor Herbert designated the existing Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems State Team to also function as the State Advisory Council on Early Care and Education, resulting in the creation of Early Childhood Utah. The purpose of the Council is to promote broad statewide coordination and collaboration among a wide range of early childhood programs and services in the state to ensure that Utah children enter school healthy and ready to learn.

    The Early Childhood Utah (ECU) Advisory Council is comprised of leaders from the fields of children's health and mental health, early care and education, and parent resource programs. The Council meets four times annually, is chaired by two co-chairs and is staffed by the Early Childhood Utah program within the Department of Health.

    The work of the ECU Advisory Council occurs through five standing subcommittees. Each subcommittee has a chair or set of co-chairs which are nominated by the Council and determined by a simple majority of voting members of ECU. The five standing subcommittees include:

    • Promoting Health and Access to Medical Homes
    • Early Care and Education
    • Social, Emotional and Mental Health
    • Parent Engagement, Support, and Education
    • Data, Research and Policy

    If you have questions or need additional information about the Early Childhood Utah Committee, please contact Carrie Finkbiner at cfinkbiner@utah.gov.

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