Healthy Beginnings, a regional nonprofit, is providing its annual Comprehensive Health and Development Screening in Prineville

 - The Comprehensive Health and Development Screenings cover a broad range of topics, from development and behavior to vision and hearing, for children birth to age 5.

Parents of children from birth to age 5 will have an opportunity once again to take advantage of a free health and wellness screening service.

The Comprehensive Health and Development Screenings will take place twice this year in Prineville. The first will be held at Barnes Butte Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 8 and a second session will be held at Crooked River Elementary School the following Thursday, Feb. 15.

The inspections covers hearing, vision, dental and overall physical health as well as development, speech, nutrition, motor skills, concepts, behavior and car seat safety.

"We are trying to offer a comprehensive service," said Kelli Neumann, outreach coordinator with Healthy Beginnings, the regional nonprofit hosting the events in Prineville and throughout Central Oregon.

She explained that the service is offered to ensure children are ready to start kindergarten without any barriers to future success. Some health issues are not as obvious to parents and with the help of experts in a variety of fields, the screenings might pick up on issues that need addressed.

"Children don't know to tell their parents that something looks funny to them or looks blurry because this in the only thing they have known," Neumann offered as an example. She went on to note that dental issues are not often addressed in children 5 years and younger.

"A lot of parents don't know that those baby teeth are important, and they need to be seen by a dentist before they are a year old."

If the screening uncover any issues that need addressed, Neumann said the experts on hand at the event can refer the parents to resources they can utilize. Additionally, the event provides extensive parent education regarding various health and safety issues, including car seat safety, which is covered by certified inspectors.

This year, the screenings have been moved from the daytime to evening (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.) and will coincide with the upcoming Kindergarten Roundup hosted by the Crook County School District.

"We are partnering with the schools this year," Neumann said. "Usually, we just have the dates and the times at the Larson Learning Center, but we decided to make it easier on parents and go to something they would already be doing."

However, this does not preclude children who are not entering kindergarten from participating. Neumann points out that they have age-specific tests for the entire birth through 5 age range.

Parents can take advantage of the health screenings by drop-in, although appointments are encouraged to enable facilitators to properly space out sessions About 20 to 30 families have historically taken advantage of the service, however Neumann would love to see that number increase this year.

"We know there are so many more kids (who could benefit from the service) in Prineville," she said.

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