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Posted: October 23, 2017

Screening for success

By Charlene Stropky

The Canadian Institute of Child Health states, “The first years last forever.”

This sentiment is supported by decades of research. It underscores our current understanding of how development occurs from birth to five years of age, and it reminds us that lifelong health and happiness are built on a foundation laid in early childhood.

The first years are also the time when children are profoundly influenced by their families and experiences centered around the home. The family remains a child’s first and most important influence, even though the child may attend childcare on a full time basis. As parents, we may find ourselves bombarded by subtle (and not so subtle) messages that we should be doing more, buying more, and giving more, to properly support our children’s development.

How can parents really be certain that their child is off to the best start? Screening our children’s development using a reliable screening tool is one answer to this question.

While most families are familiar with newborn hearing screening, and height and weight charts to monitor physical growth, the idea of checking our children’s development to make sure it is on track may not be as familiar to many parents.

Research indicates that without using a systematic and reliable screening tool to check development, up to half of all delays may not be detected early when intervention is most effective. Currently, opportunities to check, or screen, your child’s development are provided during the six month and 18 month Child Health Clinics (providing immunizations, growth monitoring, nutrition and safety) with Public Health Nursing using the ‘ASQ-3: Ages and Stages Questionnaires.’

The Cranbrook Early Years Committee is working with community agencies to ensure that parents have access to further opportunities for developmental screening as their child grows and changes through the preschool years.

ASQ-3 is a quick, family-friendly screener that makes it easy to check your child’s development. This valid, reliable tool has been used for over 20 years to help parents check that children’s development is on track, identify strengths and needs, and plan learning activities that help kids reach key milestones.

Over the next several weeks we will be visiting a range of Early Years programs (child cares, preschools, parent-child drop ins, StrongStarts) to ensure that community wide developmental screening opportunities are available for all families with children who have not reached school age. “The first years last forever.” Let us make the most of them!

If you are interested in having your child between newborn and six years screened, please contact Natalie Rudrum at the Early Years Centre (located in the Kootenay Child Development Centre – across from Safeway) or call 778-517-5513.

For more information about the Ages and Stages screening tool

Charlene Stropky is with the Infant Development Program, with the Cranbrook Early Years Committee

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