Welcome to the Developmental Screening and Enhancement Program (DSEP)! This website is devoted to providing helpful information about the DSEP program, which serves children and their caregivers within the foster care system in San Diego, California. To learn more, please click on any or all of the following questions:
DSEP is a collaborative program whose goal is to support the developmental and behavioral needs of children, under age six, within the San Diego County foster care system. Services are provided to children residing at Polinsky Children’s Center as well as those directly placed in foster or relative care homes. DSEP provides the following services:
A recent study by Georgetown University found that DSEP is very unique. It is one of only four programs in the United States that addresses the developmental needs of children who come in contact with the foster care system.
DSEP is a collaborative effort that is supported by funds from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, Promises 2 Kids , Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, the First 5 Commission of San Diego (Proposition 10--tobacco tax), and the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC).
To learn more about Children in Foster Care, click here.
The process of a child entering foster care varies from state to state and county to county. San Diego County has a unique system that offers many advantages for children and families. Some children entering the foster care system in San Diego are first placed at Polinsky Children's Center as opposed to being placed in emergency shelter homes.
Polinsky is a temporary facility where children live until they are reunited with their parents or placed in a foster care home, either with a foster parent or with a relative. Children live in cottages with other children their age. The following services are offered at Polinsky:
Children are often placed directly in the homes of relatives or foster parents. As a result, DSEP also provides services to children placed directly in foster care homes with relatives or foster parents. See How is developmental delay identified in a foster care home? for more information about this part of the program.
When children first enter Polinsky Children's Center they receive a developmental screening. Children are screened using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) . This test lets the DSEP staff know if a child may have a developmental concern. If so, the DSEP team member then recommends further evaluation and/or early intervention services if needed.
All children screened by DSEP will receive an Individual Care Plan (ICP) which contains the outcome of the developmental screening and comprehensive developmental evaluation (if applicable), recommended developmental activities, and any recommended services. The ICP is provided to the caregiver, social worker and is included in the child’s CWS Health and Education Passport.
A member of the DSEP team visits a child in the foster or relative home once she or he has been living in this new home for at least one week. The DSEP home visitor screens the child's development and behavior using a:
Children are automatically referred to DSEP when they enter the foster care system in San Diego County. Our services are often included in the standard set of assessments that children receive upon entry into the foster care system.
If you would like to know if the child in your life has received DSEP services, please contact the child's social worker.
If you would like to refer a child to DSEP, please call (858) 966-7874.
Children are automatically referred to DSEP when they enter the foster care system in San Diego County and/or are placed at Polinsky Children’s Center.
Please call DSEP at (858) 966-7874 to:
To contact DSEP at Polinsky Children’s Center, please call (858) 874-1077.
To contact Rady Children's Hospital San Diego Developmental Evaluation Clinic, please call (858) 966-5817.
For children who are not a dependent of the Juvenile Dependency Court or residing in out-of-home placement, please contact Healthy Development Services at, 1-888-5-First-5 county wide, to obtain developmental and behavioral services.