Free development checks to give NSW kids best start

A new study that provides a range of assessments for preschoolers is being trialled before being rolled out across the state in 2024.

Nine preschools across New South Wales will take part in a new study, providing free health and development tests for children before they start school.

The study will start today, with services expanded to 15 more locations in early 2023 before being offered to every NSW preschooler in 2024.

The state-wide program is an Australian first, with checks assessing hearing, vision, physical and cognitive development, social and emotional development, communication and skills.

The study will help inform the state-wide rollout of the program and will include different types of tests in different locations.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government was leading the nation with a $15.9 billion investment in early childhood commitments including health and development checks for children in preschools, to help ensure kids across the state reach their full potential.

“This is about giving every child in our state the best start to life as possible,” Mr Perrottet said.

“The first few years of life are some of the most important for long-term health and development, which is why we are investing in this important program to help identify and minimise health and development issues or delays early on.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the study will run from late November 2022 until February 2023 in metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

“Education is the door to a brighter future, and these development checks are the keys for children across NSW to access the benefits of quality education,” Ms Mitchell said.

“I have witnessed the difference these early checks make first-hand after one of my children was identified with a speech impediment, and they are now thriving at school.”

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the program aims to give more families the support they need if it is discovered their child is not on track to meet key milestones.

“Child and family nurses, allied health professionals and early childhood educators will work together to support families so all kids are ready for school,” Mr Hazzard said.

“A child’s health and development play an important part in their school journey and these checks will identify issues early so that action plans and support measures can be put in place early.”

Click here for information on the NSW Government’s Early Years Commitment.

Nine preschools taking part in the study:

1. Oorunga Wandarrah MACS Centre, Airds

2. Uniting Fredrick St Preschool, Rockdale

3. Forbes Preschool, Forbes

4. Bourke and District Children’s Services, Bourke

5. Mindaribba Preschool, Metford

6. Woodberry Preschool, Woodberry

7. Gloucester Preschool, Gloucester

8. Barrington St Preschool, Gloucester

9. Stroud Preschool, Stroud

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