Children’s Health Fair launches early childhood screenings
As the end of summer and the beginning of school approach, local families are starting to access resources for their younger kids who will be starting school for the first time.
On Wednesday, Aug. 17, several local human service agencies came together to create a one-stop-shop for children up to 5 years old to get early health screenings and assessments.
The Children’s Health Fair was organized by Cristina LaRose from Connections 4 Kids and included Horizons, Memorial Regional Health, the Lions Club, Moffat County Public Health, and several programs from Northwest Colorado Health.
LaRose said the importance of the event centers on early screenings to identify areas of concern for children who may need health or education intervention.
At the event, families could access screenings for language and literacy, math reasoning, and social emotional skills. Memorial Regional Health had several staff at the event doing screenings for occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech pathology.
Colleen Boyle, MRH speech pathologist, said the screenings were to help determine if more in-depth assessments are needed and to answer lingering questions for parents about their children’s development.
Outreach for children up to 5 years old occurs because the earlier issues are detected, the better they can be addressed in the long term. LaRose explained that getting a child into speech therapy, for example, before they are ready to enter kindergarten will help close the educational gap that a child might experience with speech difficulty.
Registered Nurse Becky Copeland said public health officials were also in attendance at Children’s Health Fair to look up vaccine records and let parents know what vaccines are coming up. Public health also provided free school supplies and first aid kits for families.
Copeland said that public health also has a shop-through program, where families can call and make an appointment to get school supplies from their department.
Any families that couldn’t attend the Children’s Health Fair are still encouraged to reach out to the different agencies directly to make appointments for early screenings, and LaRose said Connections 4 Kids can make referrals if parents aren’t sure where to go.
Connections 4 Kids is one of 34 early childhood councils in Colorado that works with agencies to connect resources for children up to 8 years old.
LaRose said the agency can help connect families to qualified providers if they are in need of childcare, and they also have one-on-one workshops for children to get ready for kindergarten.
All of the resources from Connections 4 Kids are free to families, LaRose said, and this fall they will launch a parent education series focused on families with children under 8 years old.
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