Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says more parents are sending their children to school for the first time this week knowing their B4 School Check has picked up any potential health or development needs at an early stage.
“The B4 School Checks help to give children the best start at school by identifying and addressing any health or development problems in time to connect them with the appropriate support services,” says Dr Coleman.
“The B4 School Check programme continues to perform well, reaching 92 per cent of all four-year olds for the second year in a row since 2014/15.
“In 2015/16 uptake of the B4 School Check was also 93 per cent among those living in high deprivation areas.
“All families are encouraged to participate in the free health check. B4 School Check providers are working with other services such as early childhood education, and focusing on hard to reach communities to encourage uptake.”
Children should get the B4 School Check as close to their fourth birthday as possible, to give families time to work with any additional support services they might need, for example immunisations that protect children against measles and other diseases that can spread at school.
Introduced in 2008, the B4 School Check is the final core Well Child/Tamariki Ora check. Checks are provided through a range of community health services and include hearing, eyesight, height, weight, oral health assessments, and comprehensive health and development questionnaires.
The most common issues identified in the check are vision and hearing difficulties. In 2015/16, 2874 children were identified with a possible hearing loss and referred for treatment or further assessment.
In the six months to the end of December 2016, 29,796 four-year-olds were screened, an increase on the 29,612 screened in the same period in 2015.
The Raising Healthy Kids target was introduced in 2016 and aims to ensure that through the B4 School Check, kids and their families are put in touch with primary healthcare professionals who can check for any clinical risk associated with obesity, encourage families to take action and monitor growth.