WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) — Experts in child development say the optimum time to discover learning delays in children is between birth and age three.

Ordinarily, those problems are discovered by the child’s pediatrician or childcare provider.

But during COVID slowdowns and closures, doctor’s appointments were often delayed, childcare centers were sometimes closed and many parents didn’t want to take their baby out in public places.

At Holy Family Childcare and Development Center in Wheeling, they realize there’s a gap in things that should have been discovered at an earlier age.

They say behaviors like aggressiveness and agitation are showing up now in preschoolers.

Thanks to a grant, the center is bridging that gap with some assessments being performed, better late than never.

They’re looking for social, emotional, and behavioral delays.

“We were awarded a grant from Sisters of St. Joseph Wellness and Health Foundation to help with the cost of contracting with Kendall Behavioral Solutions, and they are working on the behaviors that we are seeing that are growing because of children being home and being out of programs during COVID 19,” said Terra Crews, executive director of Holy Family Childcare and Development Center.

They are also working with West Liberty University’s speech pathology program.

Their students come to the center to identify children with possible speech delays.

They could either receive services at Holy Family, or the parents could take the child to West Liberty’s clinic.

Either way, there’s no cost to the family.