Two 18-month pilot programs are underway to expand the reach of free child development checks.
The checks, designed for children aged 0 to 5 years across South Australia, are a way to identify any developmental concerns.
If these are identified early, families can be referred to a service for further support and intervention if necessary.
In recent years, research on early childhood has made it clear how crucial the years before school are to the rest of a child’s life with about 90% of the adult brain development and growth occurring in those first five years of life.
The pilots will test models for the expansion of child development screening. One is with the Caring Futures Institute (CFI) of Flinders University in collaboration with Goodstart Early Learning; and the other is with Playgroup SA.
Expanding the delivery of these vital checks is a key step in ensuring a strong foundation for a child’s future learning and supports the Early Learning Strategy goal of increasing the reach to 80% of South Australian children.
Most children before the age of 12 months receive health and development checks via the health system but the participation in these checks tends to fall away as children get older.
The pilots are aimed at increasing checks done at the milestone ages of 12 months, 18 months to 2 years, 3 years and 4 years.
The development checks will be delivered at more than 40 playgroups across metropolitan and regional areas and are expected to reach more than 400 children.
The second pilot will trial a model for health and development checks to about 2,000 children attending 20 selected Goodstart Early Learning centres across the state.
Both programs will run until December 2023.