What are Developmental Disabilities?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in six children in the U.S. have one or more developmental disabilities or developmental delays. March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and we have compiled a few facts and resources for parents.

What are developmental disabilities?

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas¹. They come in many shapes and sizes, and are not always visible. These conditions can include, but are not limited to, vision impairment, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, learning disability and ADHD.

There are many factors that can cause a developmental disability or delay, and most begin before the baby is born. It can be linked to genetics, complications during pregnancy (such as infections) and/or during birth, exposure to high levels of toxins, and parental health and behavior (such as drinking, smoking and drug use.)

What are developmental disabilities? | Root for Kids
source: Shutterstock

Why is Early Intervention important?

Neural circuits, which create the foundation for learning, behavior and health, are most flexible during the first three years of life. Because of that, early intervention is more effective when provided then. It can also reduce the incidence of future problems in their learning, behavior and health status.² As a result, children who receive services early on most likely won’t need special education when they start school.

Baby steps
source: Shutterstock

What can you do to help your child?

If your child was born with a developmental disability, seek local early intervention services right away. For Utah and Arizona, check out the Utah Department of Health and Arizona Department of Economic Security for services in your area. 

The best way to catch developmental delays is through screenings. Only 31% of children ages 9 months to 35 months received a developmental screening in the U.S. in 2016-2017.³ To make sure your child is reaching their developmental milestones, follow the CDC’s Milestone Checklist or download their app. Contact your local providers for screening information if you have any concerns.

Developmental Milestones | Root for Kids

Root for Kids serves Washington County, Utah and the Arizona strip. Contact us for free developmental screenings.

Every child deserves the best start in life. Help us serve more children and families by donating today.

2nd Annual Health Fair

On July 12, 2019, Root for Kids hosted its 2nd Annual Health Fair for kids enrolled in the Caterpillar Clubhouse. This year, The University of Utah Physician Assistant Program joined the fun! That made it possible to also invite our Early Head Start families to receive free health services. 

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

Identifying health conditions early is key to ensure a child’s success. By addressing any concerns early on, they will have the best chance to grow and develop appropriately. Thirteen children participated in the fair and all of them received well child exams. They also received fluoride varnish, blood lead levels, hearing, developmental screenings, vision and hematocrit levels. 

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

It is also important for adults to get regular check ups! More than often adults are so busy making sure their kids are alright that they forget to take care of themselves. Thirteen adults received a variety of health screenings such as blood pressure, blood glucose, height, weight BMI, Spot Vision Screen, OAE -Hearing testing and depression. Three adults were referred for further medical needs, two adults were referred for further hearing testing and one adult referred for further vision.

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

Thank you to everyone who helped make this day a success!

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

2nd Annual Health Fair | Root for Kids

To help support our Health Services team, check out our Amazon Wish List for item donation ideas. 

5 Dental Tips to Teach Kids

Did you know that tooth decay and other oral health diseases are mostly preventable? Still, 42% of children in the U.S. between 2 and 11 years old have had dental caries (tooth decay) in their primary teeth (1). With February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, we have gathered dental tips to teach kids and resources from the American Dental Association to share!

5 Dental Tips to Teach Kids | Root for Kids

1. Be an Example 

Any time we want to teach good behavior to our kids, we start by setting the example. Kids are always copying what adults do, so use that to your advantage! Invite the kids to brush their teeth when you are going to brush yours, show them how you floss, and you can even tell them about your dental appointments. When they see that it is part of your daily routine, they will understand better why it is a part of theirs.

2. Brush Twice a Day 

Brushing might be the single most important thing you’ll do to prevent tooth decay. And you can start cleaning your kid’s teeth as soon as the first one comes out! It’s recommended to use a soft cloth for wiping or small soft toothbrush with water until they are 2 years old. Then you can begin brushing with a tiny amount of fluoridated toothpaste (make sure they spit out the toothpaste).

5 Dental Tips to Teach Kids | Root for Kids
Download Printable PDF

3. Go to the Dentist Every 6 Months

In Utah, untreated tooth decay was found in 19% of children between 6 and 9 years old (2). A lot of times tooth decay is not visible or obvious, that’s why going to the dentist regularly is so important. Your child’s first dentist visit should happen within 6 months of their first tooth and then every six months after that.

5 Dental Tips to Teach Kids | Root for Kids
Download Printable PDF

4. Develop Good Dietary Habits

For healthy teeth, it’s best to skip the sugary drinks and treats. Soda and fruit juice contain a lot of sugar, which directly contributes to tooth decay. Instead, opt for water and healthier snacks such as raw vegetables, high-fiber fruits and cheese. Remember to be a good example on this aspect as well!  

5 Dental Tips to Teach Kids | Root for Kids
Download Printable PDF

5. Don’t Share Germs

Bacteria can easily be transmitted through saliva so avoid sharing utensils and cups, and cleaning pacifiers with your mouth instead of using water. These germs can start the process that causes cavities even before babies have teeth! (3) 

Here at Root for Kids, we are grateful to partner up twice a year with dentists, dental hygienists, faculty and students from the Dixie State University Dental Hygiene program to provide a free dental clinic for our clients. Click here to donate and support more initiatives like this. 

5 Dental Tips to Teach Kids | Root for Kids


(1) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 

(2) Utah Department of Health 

(3) American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry 

Staff Highlight: Early Intervention Nurses

We are extremely fortunate to have two talented registered nurses (RN) in our staff – Stacie Holt and Megan Eads. They are part of the Health Services team at Root for Kids, where they work with our Early Head Start kids and pregnant moms and Early Intervention kids. Today we’re highlighting their amazing work with the unique Early Intervention program at Root for Kids.

Staff Highlight: Early Intervention Nurses | Root for Kids
Megan Eads

The program serves children from birth to 3 years old and each referred child gets a home visit with an RN. This happens upon intake and annually; the evaluation includes an individualized health history, hearing and vision screening. Our nurse’s role in Early Intervention is vital to the assessment and eligibility of the child.

The nurses help the family determine if there is a medical reason that needs to be addressed in order for developmental milestones to be reached. They also coordinate care with medical providers if concerns need to be addressed. This ensures that a child’s overall health is an asset to their development.

Stacie Holt, one of our nurses, recently shared the following success story with us.


Staff Highlight: Early Intervention Nurses | Root for Kids
Stacie Holt

From Feeding Tube to Full Nutrition by Mouth

Approximately two years ago, we enrolled a premature baby in our Early Intervention program who was a triplet and was born at 33 weeks. She had spent 2 months in the NICU. The baby was born with a cleft lip and palate and was unable to nurse or take a bottle. She went home with a feeding tube and 100% of her nutrition was through tube feeding. Later had corrective surgical repair of her lip and soft palate.  

The speech therapist helped her learn to eat by mouth and overcome a severe gag reflex. The physical therapist helped with her gross motor development, and the developmental specialist helped with her overall development.  

As she got older, an occupational therapist helped her learn to eat food with a variety of textures. The registered nurse worked with her and her parents on calorie packing to help her gain weight.  

As a team, we served this sweet premature girl from the time she was about 5 months old until she was 29 months old and moved out of state. At the time she exited our program, she was taking 100% of her nutrition by mouth and planning on having her feeding tube removed.   

I recently spoke with her mom and she continues to do well; so well that they have decided they no longer need Early Intervention.

If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please fill out our referral form. To support the Early Intervention program and its activities, visit our donate page.

What You Should Know About Prematurity

In Utah, 10% of births are preterm (more than three weeks before the babies due date.) The rate of prematurity in the United States is similar, and it is a number that has been on the rise over the past few years. Premature birth is the largest contributor to the death of babies in the United States. It can have devastating emotional, physical, and financial effects on the babies and families involved.Read More

1st Annual Caterpillar Clubhouse Health Fair

We had so much fun hosting our first annual Caterpillar Clubhouse Health Fair last week! It provided free health services over the course of two days for 23 kids enrolled in childcare. Our awesome Health Communication intern, Abby Wynn, organized the event as part of her capstone project for the Health Communication degree at Dixie State Communication. We are so grateful for her hard work and everyone who came out that day to make this happen!


Why are health screenings so important?


Healthy eyes and vision are a critical part of child’s development. Their eyes should be examined regularly, as many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and treated early, helping them to be ready to learn.



Early identification puts children on track for success and learning. Development screenings help to determine whether a child needs additional help.



Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making both baby teeth and permanent teeth that are forming, resistant to the acid that causes demineralization that creates cavities. Children with healthy mouths and teeth are better able to eat, speak and focus on learning.



Hearing problems can be treated if they’re caught early, so it’s important to get your child’s hearing screened early and evaluated regularly. Even a mild or partial hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to speak and understand language and readiness to learn.



Lead poisoning causes a range of health effects from behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Lead is HIGHLY toxic and can lead to seizures and death. Children need a blood lead test at 12 and 24 months to monitor the level of lead in their blood to ensure that they have not been exposed to dangerous levels of lead and are keeping healthy and prepared for learning.


Our bodies need oxygen for energy and growth. Red blood cells, hemoglobin, and iron carry oxygen through the blood to the body. Anemia is when the body does not have enough red blood cells, iron, or hemoglobin. It can slow a child’s energy, growth, and development. Hematocrit/Hemoglobin should be checked between 9 and 30 months to make sure a child is healthy and has what his/her body needs to have the energy and oxygen to be ready to learn.

The Caterpillar Clubhouse is now enrolling! Learn more here.