B4 School Checks Exceed Target

Press Release – Northland DHB

Targets for checking pre-schoolers health and development were exceeded in the last year with 96 per cent of Northlands estimated 2500 four-year-olds tested. Over the last year, 96 per cent of four-year-olds in Northland have completed the …August 8, 2014

B4 School Checks Exceed Target

Targets for checking pre-schoolers’ health and development were exceeded in the last year with 96 per cent of Northland’s estimated 2500 four-year-olds tested.

Over the last year, 96 per cent of four-year-olds in Northland have completed the Before School Check (B4Sc), involving an assessment by a registered nurse and a hearing/vision technician, exceeding its 90 per cent target. The national standards result this year was 91 per cent.

B4Sc’s are a free, comprehensive child health and development check available for all four-year-olds and are the twelfth and final part of the Well Child/Tamariki Ora service offered to all New Zealand children from birth to five years. The purpose is to support parents to protect their child’s health so they can grow and develop to their full potential by the time they start school. The non-compulsory programme offers screening, education and support with the B4Sc also including a free eyesight and hearing test.

Northland Primary Health Organisations B4Sc co-ordinator Rae Jones says this year’s result is fantastic and the most checks ever done in a year in Northland since the programme began in 2008 where it reached 79 per cent in its first year. Following this, the regional target was 80 per cent each year until it was raised to 90 per cent in the last year.

“The whole B4Sc team throughout Northland has worked extremely hard this year to achieve this fabulous result for our tamariki and their whanau.”

She says the programme has been run from the grass roots with a lot of people promoting the check to their whanau, following their own children being checked.

“Word-of-mouth promotion works well as people pass on their own experiences.”

Local mum Claire Stevens took her daughter, Finn, for her B4Sc recently and found the experience reassuring.

“It was nice and easy, the nurses were all really friendly and made my daughter feel welcome, giving her colouring in to keep her busy. I thought it was quite well done.”

She says one of the positives to come out of it was the decision to go ahead with a vaccine that she had been unsure of.

“We had a good chat about vaccinating with the nurse and decided to go ahead with one of the vaccines that we weren’t going to do. The nurse presented the information to me and was factual and nice, instead of being forceful, whereas before I’ve felt like I was being drilled.

“I think it’s in the best interest of your children to (have the check). It’s free and it’s worth it. There’s no reason not to do it.”

Ms Jones is confident a further 2500 children will be reached in the coming year as the B4Sc continues to grow and be recognised as an important milestone for all Kiwi four- year-olds. To ensure all children are fit and ready to learn at school, the children who miss the B4Sc will have a vision and hearing test once they start school.

“Going to school is a huge milestone in a child’s life so it is important they arrive in peak health and ready to learn. Most parents enjoy this valuable opportunity to discuss their child with a B4Sc nurse and have their vision and hearing checked.”

In Northland the B4Sc is provided in the community by a team of dedicated health care providers, including Plunket, Well Child/Tamariki Ora, general practices and Maori Health providers.

To support the promotion of the B4Sc in New Zealand, the Health Promotion Agency will soon be running a campaign to encourage families with four-year-olds to make sure their child is fit and ready to start school by having a B4Sc in their local area.

To find out more about the check: phone the Northland B4 School Helpline 0800 24 24 325, talk to your Well Child/Tamariki Ora provider, family doctor or nurse, public health nurse, or check out the Ministry of Health website www.moh.govt.nz/b4schoolcheck

ENDS

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