Data & Resources Investing in Vital Early Education

A data-powered, community-driven, scalable early childhood model.

A champion of developmental screenings since 2014, the DRIVE initiative at United Way of Massachusetts Bay works to build on the importance of screening young children across our footprint and beyond. DRIVE’s high-level goals are:

  • Universal developmental screening access to children and families to promote school readiness and healthy child development
  • Empowering parents as their child’s first teacher and getting connected to the resources needed for their child(ren) to learn and thrive
  • Partnering with early education programs to ensure strong developmental screening practices
  • Using aggregate data to best support the children they serve

webinar: The urgent need for developmental screening

View this panel discussion as experts discuss the importance of developmental screening, now more than ever.

Read the DRIVE 2022 issue brief

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How DRIVE Works

DRIVE is a first-of-its-kind effort that initially evolved out of a partnership with the City of Boston, on Thrive in 5, and was then launched by United Way through support from the Private Equity and Venture Capital industry. DRIVE allows families, educators, health providers, and community leaders to take a data-driven approach to early childhood learning and development. United Way’s DRIVE initiative has led the field in developmental screening conversations by using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Socia Emotional (ASQ:SE™) data combined with knowledge from partners to guide continuous improvements. 

DRIVE provides trainings on best practices in screening and ongoing technical assistance around data entry and use of technology platforms. DRIVE partners include:

  • Early Education and Care Providers, Community Agencies, Home-Visiting Programs, and Organizations working with children 0 – 6 years old: DRIVE partners with early childhood organizations to gather and aggregate data from ASQ screenings they conduct. They then utilize the data to improve program quality. They can also use the screening process to engage families in supporting their children’s learning and development.
  • Peer-to-Peer Parent Screeners: We’ve created an innovative peer-to-peer model, hiring and training local parents to become parent screeners who connect to families in their communities. These parents conduct the ASQ screening at home visits or in neighborhood-based settings and offer resources and information for families based on screening results. Parent screeners represent multiple cultures and languages and create connections for isolated families and ensure all children are screened, whether enrolled in formal early education and care or not.

Creating Transformative Change

Since 2014, DRIVE has:

  • Collected developmental screening data from over 14,000 children ages 0-5. Among children re-screened after one year, over 65% progressed from showing strong concern to potential concern or developing on track.
  • Trained and supported 35+ parent screeners and partnered with 30 early education and community-based programs across 70+ sites in Greater Boston to build the infrastructure for collecting screening data.
  • Formed learning communities in Boston, Chelsea and Lynn to utilize and leverage data and maximize the use of ASQ screening as a family engagement and program improvement opportunity and to ensure that children and families’ needs are met.
  • Developed a technology platform to aggregate data and generate program, neighborhood, and community-level data reports.
  • Influenced the activities and opportunities that community-based organizations are providing for families with young children.
    • South Boston Neighborhood House and the Dorchester Family Engagement Network held family events geared at activities to foster fine motor skill development among children and distributed “Fine Motor Kits” to give to parents.
    • Action for Boston Community Development’s Head Start program, which serves over 2,400 low-income children ages 0-5 throughout the city, identified and fulfilled a need for new playground equipment at many of their sites to support gross motor development.
  • Held family events geared at activities to foster fine motor skill development among children. Distributed “Fine Motor Kits” to give to parents through Boston Family Engagement Network, Catholic Charities, ABCD Head Start and other partner agencies.
  • Expanded to communities outside of Boston, including Chelsea, Gloucester, Lawrence, Lynn, Somerville, and Springfield.
  • Informed statewide efforts to improve data collection and infrastructure for screening young children.

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For more information, contact Jennifer DiCato at