NSW new building brighter beginnings for Tenterfield pre-schoolers

​Preschoolers in Tenterfield, in the New England region, are set for an easier transition into primary school thanks to free health and development checks which are now being delivered through early childhood education and care services. 

Clinicians from Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) provided the health checks in Tenterfield, as part of the NSW Government’s Brighter Beginnings program.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Prue Car said the program is a joint initiative of the NSW Department of Education and NSW Health, which is making free health checks accessible to all four-year-olds attending participating ECEC services, including public preschools, community preschools and long day care centres.

“Starting school is an exciting time, but with two in five children developmentally at risk or vulnerable before they start school, we need to do more to support young children and their families,” Ms Car said.

“Providing health and development checks in early childhood centres makes it more convenient for parents to get these checks done before their children start ‘big school’.”

Minister for Regional Health, Ryan Park said the program is currently being rolled out across all local health districts in NSW and is expected to be available statewide by the end of 2024.

“Our local health districts are working with ECEC services across NSW to implement the program, taking into consideration local community and cultural needs.

“By offering outreach services, we’re ensuring children from every corner of NSW have the opportunity to thrive, and that parents have access to assistance if their child requires it,” Mr Park said.

Member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin says the program’s diversity of care will greatly improve the accessibility and delivery of paediatric treatment across the region.

“These free checks for 4-year-old children cover a wide range of developmental areas, including language, social, and motor skills, as well as cognitive abilities. They also include assessments of physical growth, dental health, and hearing.” Ms Saffin said.

Dr Paul Craven, Executive Director of Children, Young People, and Families HNELHD, said the District’s multidisciplinary team travel to different regional towns throughout the year.

“Our team of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and child and family health nurses visit these communities to assess a child’s development and feed that information back to parents to ensure they can help find the support they need, if they need it,” said Dr Craven.

Early childhood education and care providers can apply for a one-off grant to help support services be able to opt into this program in 2024. Applications are open now and close on 31 March 2024. To find out more information and apply, visit the Department of Education’s website​.

The NSW Government has committed $111.2 million over four years to the program. For more information about the health and development checks in early childhood education services, visit the NSW Health website​.​

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