There are a range of checks carried out from the first days of a child’s life which can help highlight potential health issues, or spot children who may not be developing at the expected rate, so that the right help can be put in place for them as early as possible.
When issues such as difficulty with hand-eye co-ordination or delayed speech and language are identified and addressed while children are still young, firm foundations will be in place for them to thrive and make good progress as they move through each stage of their education, which, in turn, improves their life chances.
But details of health and developmental checks are often recorded and stored in separate databases by the different practitioners involved. This means that there is a greater risk of the vital early signs being missed.
So, is there a simple way to bring this information together to make it easier for all those working with children to ensure they get the best possible start in life?
Team around a child
Imagine a nursery practitioner or childminder notices a child who consistently struggles to hold a pencil or rarely interacts with other children. Having access to the health and developmental checks that child has undergone since birth online and in one place means they could log onto the system and see if there have been any concerns relating to their development that their parents may not have previously mentioned. This could provide valuable information to the practitioner when speaking with parents or highlight the need for further investigations.
If stored online, health or social care teams that came into contact with the child or family would be able to contribute notes to the child’s record in real time that might be vital for their childminder or early years setting to be aware of. Parents could be given access to the system too, so if concerns have been raised about a child’s mobility, for example, they could add a note – or even upload an image – of that child taking their first steps from home.
Bringing disparate information together can make it easier for all those involved with a child to ensure they get the best possible start in life.
But there would also be a goldmine of data that could be used to ensure children benefit from the highest quality early years provision.
Improving local early years provision
By collating information from multiple early years settings on the children in their care, a local authority could use it to spot trends, such as a spike in speech and language difficulties amongst boys under the age of 4, for example. Knowing this will help local authority staff work with settings to ensure children and families get the help they need.
A childminder or nursery could also use the information to compare their performance with similar provision in the area. This would not only support practitioners in sharing best practice but could also help drive standards of early years provision across the region.
Having a more complete picture available of children’s health and developmental progress – from birth through the critical early years – is the first step to ultimately ensuring they get the help they need, at the time they need it, to thrive and grow through each stage of their lives.