Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!
Promoting early developmental and behavioral screening for kids

 Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! Celebrate your child's milestones.

[ Background | Goals | Resources | Federal Partners ]


The U.S. Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services (HHS) have launched Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! to encourage developmental and behavioral screening for children to support the families and providers who care for them.

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! will help families look for and celebrate milestones; promote universal screenings; identify delays as early as possible; and improve the support available to help children succeed in school and thrive alongside their peers.

"Early screening can lead to better access to services and supports, which can enhance children's learning and development, minimize developmental delays, and result in more positive outcomes in school and life," said Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. Education Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

This initiative encourages early childhood experts—including practitioners in early care and education, primary health care, early intervention, child welfare and mental health—to work together with children and their families. Early screenings check developmental progress and can uncover potential developmental delays. If a child’s screening result shows risk, families and providers will be in a better position to pursue more in-depth evaluation, which is the first step toward getting help for a child who might need it.

For example, today's autism data release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows most children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2. Early identification that leads to early access to services is the most powerful tool available right now to make a difference in the lives of children.


Goals of the Program:

The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! program will:

  • Celebrate milestones.
    Every family looks forward to seeing a child’s first smile, first step, and first words. Regular screenings with early childhood professionals help raise awareness of a child’s development, making it easier to expect and celebrate developmental milestones.
  • Promote universal screening.
    All of our children need support in the early years to make sure they stay healthy and happy. Just like hearing and vision screenings assure that children can hear and see clearly, developmental and behavioral screenings assure that children are making developmental progress, in areas such as language, social, or motor development. Screening is a regular part of growing up.
  • Identify possible delays and challenges early.
    Screenings can help kids succeed in and beyond their school years. With regular screenings, families, teachers, and other professionals can assure that young children get the services and supports they need, as early as possible to help them thrive alongside their peers.
  • Enhance developmental supports.
    Families are children’s first and most important teachers. Combining the love and knowledge families have of their children with tools, guidance, and tips recommended by experts, can help optimize the developmental support children receive.



Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! resources include:

  • A list of research-based developmental screening tools appropriate for use across a wide range of settings;
  • Guides on how to use the screeners for a variety of audiences, from early learning teachers to doctors, social workers, and families;
  • Toolkits with resources and tip sheets;
  • Guidance on finding help at the local level; and
  • A screening passport that allows families to track a child’s screening history and results.


Federal Partners

U.S. Department of Education

  • OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
    • OSEP: Office of Special Education Programs
  • OESE: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
    • OEL: Office of Early Learning


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • ACF: Administration for Children and Families
  • ACL: Administration for Community Living
  • CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • CMS: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • HRSA: Health Resources and Services Administration
  • NICHD: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • SAMHSA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


Visit the Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive Web site to get more information and resources, including a screening passport.

03/27/2014 ED Press Release.

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Last Modified: 03/27/2014