KidCheck program honored

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2009

A program geared toward screening school-aged children for abnormalities and promoting the overall health of children was honored this week.

The Auburn University Montgomery Center for Government and Public Affairs and Center for Advanced Technologies named the KidCheck program as the overall winner for the 2009 Innovative Alabama Governments Award for Government Program Innovation at the state and regional level.

KidCheck was honored as the best out of five other finalists at a ceremony at the State Capitol.

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Gov. Bob Riley was pleased with his program’s success, which he created in 2008 in order to help forge partnerships to bring free ample school-based health screenings to any interested school system.

“I’m extremely pleased that KidCheck was selected for this prestigious award,” Riley said. “KidCheck truly is a model program that is improving the health of our school children through local, regional and state partnerships without cost to the taxpayers of Alabama.”

Locally, Pike County Schools began participation last school year, with Pike County Elementary School students participating.

Throughout the state, two-year and four-year nursing schools partner with local school systems and college nursing students administer the KidCheck screenings during a school day.

Troy University’s School of Nursing partnered with Pike County Schools to conduct the screenings.

This school year the program broadened to include Goshen Elementary and Banks Primary and Middle schools, as well as PCES, and was held in October.

According to Brooke Terry, child nutrition program director at PCS, the program is advantageous to students.

“The KidCheck program is beneficial to the students in PCS mainly because it is a free health screening that some students may not have the opportunity to receive,” Terry said. “The children have their vision, hearing, height, weight and heart checked.”

Terry said any abnormalities found are documented and parents are notified.

“The school nurses follow-up to make sure that the children are taken to a doctor to be re-screened,” Terry said.

Following the screenings, parents receive a report and assistance for children needing additional care.

Efforts are made to provide public health insurance for eligible children through shared application of Medicaid, ALL Kids and the Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Alabama Child Caring Foundation.

“We also had ALL Kids (insurance) information for the parents as well as a representative from Sarrell Dental to talk with students about healthy habits for their teeth.”

Children who failed the vision screening are referred to Sight Savers America for the coordination of all necessary follow-up eye care services and Sarrell Regional Dental Center coordinates dental screening and follow-ups for KidCheck in several regions of the state.

According to the Governor’s office, more than 17,000 school children received the health screenings during the 2008-2009 school year and 23 school systems participated.

The governor’s office, also reports that the screenings led to 2,200 dental referrals and 1,900 vision referrals.

State officials say the program is gaining interest and rapidly expanding to include more than 30 schools systems this school year, which is expected to include 30,000 children to receive screenings.