A report summarising the effectiveness of our state-wide screening program has shown the importance of developmental screening for children in rural and remote areas, with 80% of program participants referred onward for further assessment.
The Healthy Kids Bus Stop (HKBS) program, run in rural and remote locations throughout NSW, has referred nearly 3,500 children to other services, such as speech pathology, for further assessment. After eight years of operation, its final screening was held in Tumut and Tumburumba in regional NSW in October 2022.
Since it started in 2014, the HKBS has provided screenings for oral health, hearing, speech, diet, fine and gross motor skills, and emotional well-being. It visited 12 locations throughout NSW, screening over 4,200 children aged between 3-5 years. Of the 80% of children referred for further assessment, the highest need was for speech pathology followed by occupational therapy.
Our Chief Executive Officer, Jacqui Emery said the HKBS has proved an extremely effective model for identifying children’s health and developmental needs in rural and remote locations of NSW.
“The HKBS has highlighted the importance of early identification and intervention for health and developmental issues that may have a profound effect on children’s health trajectories,” Ms Emery said.
“It has also shone a light on some gaps in service provision for children in rural and remote NSW and the need to ensure the most disadvantaged children with developmental challenges are identified before school begins.”
Ms Emery said the report highlights the main benefits of the program, such as:
- Supporting children’s transition into kindergarten
Increased parent knowledge of child development
Improved service access and highlighted gaps in local areas
Improved collaboration between service providers in local areas
Ms Emery said Royal Far West would continue to offer screening as part of a broader service offering for schools and pre-schools, and this decision was in line with the recent launch of the NSW Government’s Brighter Beginnings initiative, which is set to deliver health and development checks to all children in NSW preschool settings.
The HKBS was run in partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities, NSW Department of Health via the Local Health Districts and many corporate and philanthropic organisations.
Read our full final report on the Healthy Kids Bus Stop.