Toddler progress rates hold firm in Northumberland

Development rates among toddlers in Northumberland held up despite restrictions during the first year of the pandemic, new figures show.

By Joanna Morris
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:56 am
Pandemic toddler development fears

At the age of two, children are invited to undergo a developmental check to see how they are progressing mentally and physically with health health visitors assess their communication, social interaction, problem-solving, and motor skills – holding objects, drawing, walking and kicking a ball.

Data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities shows 91% of children in the area who were reviewed met or exceeded expectations in all five areas – the same as the previous year.

Nationally, the figure fell to 82.9% from 83.3% the year before.

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The figures for Northumberland show around 97% of youngsters were on track with their fine motor skills: 99% had adequate gross motor skills; problem-solving was on target at 97% and 95% were above or exceeding expectations around communication skills, while 96% able to socialise at an expected level.

Nationally, the Action for Children charity has called for urgent investment to avert a "childhood crisis".

Imran Hussain, the charity’s director of policy and campaigns, said the pandemic had worsened existing problems, adding: "The first few years are critical to a child’s development so the fact they have spent the majority of this precious time unable to socialise with other children or enjoy normal levels of play has been devastating.”

A Government spokesman said: "The NHS, local authorities and health visitors are working hard to reinstate services to help families get the support they need, and the Public Health Grant will continue to ensure investment is made in prevention and frontline services like child health visits."