The first five years of life are critical for child development. Did you know a child's brain grows more during these 5 years than other time in a child's life? Just think about the changes and learning that takes place in their physical skills, communication and social interaction during this time. A new baby is completely dependent on their parent/caregiver and a 5-year-old is running, talking and learning to read and write. The foundations for future learning and life are formed.
At times an infant/child may have delays in their communication, motor, problem solving or personal-social skills development. Child development checks during these first 5 years can highlight areas where your infant/child may require further support. An infant's/child's brain is primed for learning in the early years so screening for potential delays in development, investigating further and then accessing supports can give them the best start to life. Supports may include ideas of activities for parents/caregivers or specialised early intervention.
The Office for the Early Years (OEY) has partnered with Playgroup SA to pilot a new way to offer families Child Development Checks for their children. The initiative forms part of the 2021 to 2031 Early Learning Strategy (ELS) to increase Child Development Checks (CDC’s) up to 80% and reduce the proportion of children in South Australia assessed as `developmentally vulnerable’ on one or more domains, according to the Australian Early Development Census.
The key objectives of the Playgroup SA Pilot are to ensure:
-Parents/caregivers are informed and have greater awareness of child development checks.
-Children, with parental/caregiver consent, receive their age-appropriate child development check.
-Parents/caregivers of children identified as requiring monitoring or having a potential developmental vulnerability, are supported to seek further assistance.
The Ages and Stages - 3 or the Ages and Stages - Trak, for Aboriginal Australian children, is the questionnaire that will be offered to Playgroup SA playgroups.
A Child Development Screener from Playgroup SA arranges a time to visit the selected Playgroups in the pilot and provides families with information, answer questions and registers families' interest. Families are given the appropriate Ages and Stages Questionnaire for the child's age which they take home to complete.
The Child Development Screener meets with the families in one to two weeks’ time and collates the parents responses together. This can take place at your Playgroup location, local library/community centre or Playgroup SA head office.
Playgroup SA recognise that parents/caregivers know their child best. This tool captures parent's in-depth knowledge about their child. It highlights strengths as well as any concerns that the parent/caregiver may have. Completing a check also gives parents and caregivers the chance to increase their understanding of their child's skills as well as learning ways to further their child's development.