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Home » Children's Health » A Healthy Start in A Child’s Life Is Key to Future Success

During the first five years of life, a child’s brain can grow and develop quickly, and their experiences during this time can provide the foundation for cognitive growth, and their emotional, social, and physical well-being.

Kendra E. Davenport

President and CEO, Easterseals

“Caring for the whole child is at the core of Easterseals’ early childhood development programs.”

Each year, more than 1 million children enter kindergarten with an undiagnosed developmental delay. Easterseals wants to ensure that all children start kindergarten with the right skills to succeed alongside their peers, which makes these first five years of childhood development so critical for lifelong success.

A strong start

Trusted by families nationwide for more than 100 years, Easterseals provides infants and toddlers with vital services, including early education and care through a network of 71 Affiliates. Our Make the First Five Count® initiative offers a free, online screening tool that helps parents and caregivers track the development of their child from birth through age 5. This comprehensive and confidential tool helps identify if children are meeting critical milestones, including language/communication and social/emotional cues.

Caring for the whole child is at the core of Easterseals’ early childhood development programs. If developmental cues are present and need to be addressed, we support families as soon as possible by providing childhood development services that help children achieve cognitive, social, emotional, communicative, and physical development goals. Occupational therapy can help an infant learn to hold their bottle; physical therapy can help them learn to roll over, crawl, or walk; and speech therapy can encourage eating or speaking. Most of these early intervention services can take place in the home or at Easterseals’ community-based centers across the country.

Easterseals also offers nutrition, audiology, mental health, and autism services, and assistive technology to support early childhood development. Additionally, our Child Development Center Network provides inclusive childcare so all children can learn and grow together.

Strengthening communities

As a national, affiliate-based organization, each of our Easterseals locations shares a commitment to the 1.5 million people we serve, and each of our locations offers a variety of important disability and community services to meet the needs of many, so we can enhance someone’s quality of life and expand local access to the supports they need to thrive.

Early childhood development is just a fraction of what we do every day. Other important services include behavioral health programs, adult day services, medical rehabilitation, transportation and mobility services, and training and skills development programs for people with disabilities, veterans, and mature workers.

We are also committed to crucial work in public policy and government relations to positively shape perceptions about disability and address the urgent and evolving needs of the 1 in 4 Americans with disabilities today. I am proud of the work we do to ensure that every person with a disability, veteran, or older adult is empowered to be a full and equal participant in society.

To learn more, visit, or access the free Make the First Five Count® screening tool at

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