M. of Healthy Living & Sport
The new child health screening regulation under the Public Health Act will ensure that all B.C. children in licensed child-care facilities and school settings have access to child health screening. This regulation is the latest piece of an integrated cross-ministry strategy to address dental, hearing and vision concerns in early childhood.
Government has made the commitment to provide universal access to early screening for vision, hearing and dental disorders for children younger than six years. As these problems may impact a child's development and learning, early and timely treatment can often provide the healthiest outcomes and optimize a child's capacity to learn, adapt and develop.
Public health staff have been offering various screening services in schools for many years, using a process of parent notification with an opt-out provision that allows the parent to decline services. The new child health screening regulation formalizes this process. It also allows public health staff to obtain demographic information about children enrolled in a licensed facility so that their parents can be notified and offered child health screening services.
The new regulation also gives health authority staff permission to disclose screening and diagnostic results to a third party, such as the child's school or a child-care facility operator. This will ensure the child receives any appropriate or necessary follow-up support and assistance in the classroom or facility setting.
Parents will be notified about the health screening program and when the screening will occur in their child's school or child-care facility. They will also be provided with public health contacts so they can seek further information. The opt-out process allows parents to decline screening services or disclosure of screening results, with no consequences to future service provision or care of their child.
In B.C., the following health authority occupational groups may be involved in conducting child health screening: public health nurses, licensed practical nurses, dental hygienists, certified dental assistants, audiology technicians, audiologists and health unit aides.
For more information on the new regulation, visit: www.hls.gov.bc.ca/women-and-children/children-and-youth/early-childhood.html