Return to Headlines

"Docs for Tots": Local pediatricians working to find and address problems early

Cover of "Minding the Gaps" report from the Rauch Foundation "In the old days people would say, 'Let's wait six months' [if a child wasn't meeting milestones]," says Dr. Elizabeth Isakson, the executive director of a Queens-based nonprofit called Docs for Tots. "But a child's brain develops at such a rate that this is not the time to wait six months."

That's why she co-founded the non-profit organization in 2003. Originally, the goal was a national network of pediatricians who would promote best practices and advocate for research-based interventions, birth to age 3. It soon became clear that a top-down approach wasn't the best strategy. Instead, they turned to "low-cost, high-impact" practices at the grassroots level, such as developmental screening questionnaires. These are now being used at all of Nassau County's federally qualified health centers, which serve youngsters at the highest risk. The payoff: about one in ten children have received early intervention services.

The newest initiative is called Help Me Grow. It's a plan for networking, not an agency, per se, and it will provide a call center and information clearinghouse to steer doctors and parents to appropriate services in their communities. 

"Here in Nassau County, Docs for Tots might be the only organization that is pulling together MDs with community partners, giving us a place where we can all sit together and discuss our ideas and try to build these partnerships that are so vital to families to get the care they needs," says Susanne Kowel-Connelly, director of pediatric quality for the Nassau centers.

Download "Minding the Gap," a comprehensive article about Docs for Tots on Long Island from the Rauch Foundation.