Pandemic hits toddler progress in South Tyneside

Toddlers in South Tyneside fell behind on key development goals during the first year of the pandemic, new figures show.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:57 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 74% of children in South Tyneside who were reviewed met or exceeded expectations in all five areas – below the national average.

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

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The figures for South Tyneside show, around 81% of youngsters were on track with their fine motor skills; 80% had adequate gross motor skills; problem-solving was on target at 81% and 76% were above expectations for communication skills, with 79% able to socialise at an expected level.

Charity Action for Children has called for urgent investment to prevent a national "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."