Preschool checks popular

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 11:41 14/02/2014
b4 school checks
GAINING GROUND: South Canterbury is exceeding targets for B4 School checks.

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Parents are making the most of a free pre-school health check, putting the South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) ahead of its target.

The B4 School Check is free to children turning 4. It helps make sure each child is healthy and can learn well at school.

SCDHB's target for the year to date is 50 per cent of eligible children. As of December, the DHB had reached out to 54 per cent. It also classified 57 per cent of children as being high needs.

In the past six months, about 3200 Canterbury 4-year-olds had received a free B4 School Check - 360 more children than the same period the previous year.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the check gives parents an opportunity to discuss their child's health and development with a nurse, at no charge.

The check takes between 45 to 60 minutes. It covers hearing, vision, growth and oral health.

"I've recently been told of one grateful mum who wrote to thank her local health professionals after her daughter received a B4 School Check," Mr Ryall said.

"Before the check, the mother was unaware her daughter had issues with her eyesight. However, through the B4 School Check, they identified she was long-sighted in one eye; and had been wholly dependent on her other eye to read and play with friends."

The young girl has since visited an optometrist and now has glasses.

"Without the check, the girl's condition may have remained undetected for much longer. Now she will ... begin school and have the best possible start to her education."

Mr Ryall said the girl's mum now realises how "invaluable" the service is for the health of the country's young children.

The Government invests $11 million each year to provide free B4 School Checks for all eligible 4 year olds.

"Pre-school children are at a crucial stage of their development. By getting in early, and identifying how kids are doing before they enter school, we can make sure that they get the help they need to participate to their full ability."

For more information visit scdhb.health.nz/a-healthy-community/public-health-nursing-service/b4-school-checks.html

SOUTH CANTERBURY HERALD

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