Toddler progress rates improve in Sunderland

More toddlers in Sunderland hit key development goals despite restrictions during the first year of the pandemic, new figures show.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:56 am

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 86% of children in the area who were reviewed met or exceeded expectations in all five areas – up from 83% the previous year.

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

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The figures for Sunderland show around 96% of youngsters were on track with their fine motor skills: 95% had adequate gross motor skills; problem-solving was on target at 96% and 89% were above or exceeding expectations around communication skills, while 95% wrere 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."