Developmental Care Program

Since 1982, the Developmental Care Program at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center has provided developmental-medical services, education and research. The population we serve includes newborns, infants and young children who have medical and/or social conditions that place them at risk for developmental disabilities. An average of 700 families and their children who are at-risk for future developmental delays are served annually.

The philosophy guiding the Developmental Care Program embraces the concepts of resiliency, health, wellness, and development within a preventive framework. Periodic preventive intervention (assessment, family teaching and consultation) with the family is the primary form of developmental intervention.

The program goals are:

  • To link parent and caregiver with services and education
  • To match services based on medical-developmental needs
  • To design interventions with families that can be integrated into daily routines
  • To alleviate the effects of illness, drug exposure, or extreme prematurity for improved outcomes
  • To conduct research that will reduce the potential for future delays and will mitigate the effects of illness and prematurity  

The typical conditions that place infants and toddlers at developmental risk are:

  • Born less than 35 weeks gestation
  • Very low birth weight (<1501 grams)
  • Small for gestational age
  • Hypoxia-ischemic encephalopathy; periventricular hemorrhage; periventricular leukomalacia
  • Abnormal neurological findings
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia/chronic lung disease
  • Prenatal drug exposure
  • Medical conditions requiring prolonged hospitalization
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Failure to thrive
  • Chromosomal Disorders
  • Severe Jaundice
  • Social and emotional concerns

Working within and respecting a family's cultural paradigm is the cornerstone from which services are developed. Team members use observation and interviewing techniques to gather information that reflects family values, beliefs, and preferences in child rearing, health, and wellness, and builds on child and family resiliency.

The Developmental Care Program serves their patient population by offering:

  • Individually constructed anticipatory guidance for the unique needs of the child and his/her family
  • Caregiver teaching, support and counseling as well as case management
  • Strength-based approach to address the challenges faced by children and families
  • Periodic assessment of a child's developmental progress from birth to three years of age along with an assessment of family needs necessary to support their child 
  • Therapeutic intervention birth to age 3 years

The developmental care program also offers educational care programs that target medical faculty, residents, nurses, therapists, social workers, foster parents, day care providers and volunteers.

The research conducted by the Developmental Care Program contributes to the knowledge regarding the at-risk population to influence future child and family outcomes, including developmental course and outcome of the child and family, and staff adaptation or adjustment.​