Health Services and Support for Young Children

Published on Thursday, 30 November 2017
Last updated on Friday, 04 January 2019

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An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but the government is committed to ensuring young children have ready access to health care professionals. 

Here we look at the free health and dental checks available from birth to school age, plus other support offered to young children and their parents.   

What are the Well Child Tamariki Ora checks?

The Well Child Tamariki Ora programme is a series of free health visits and support for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Your midwife will help you sign up soon after your baby is born, or you can find a service here later on. 

The health visits are an important part of each child’s early years and are undertaken by a trained nurse who covers these areas: 

  • Child growth and development
  • Family health and wellbeing
  • Immunisation information
  • Oral health (teeth and gum) checks
  • Early childhood education (ECE)
  • Vision and hearing
  • Health and development checks for learning well at school

The visits are also a chance for parents to ask questions and pass on any concerns raised by your child’s ECE service carer. And if an issue needs following-up, the nurse will refer your child to a doctor, specialist or early learning support. 

In terms of timing, the Well Child Tamariki Ora checks are age-based. So your child can expect to have one when they’re:

  • 4 to 6-weeks-old
  • 8 to 10-weeks-old
  • 3 to 4-months-old
  • 5 to 7-months-old
  • 9 to 12-months-old
  • 15 to 18-months-old
  • 2 to 3-years-old
  • 4 years (the B4 School Check)

What’s involved in the B4 School Check?

The last Well Child Tamariki Ora check happens soon after your child’s fourth birthday. The aim of the B4 School Check is to identify any issues that could impact their learning, and allow time to get help before ‘big school’ starts.

Your local B4 School Check team will get in touch to arrange the check, which lasts about 45 minutes and involves the nurse:

  • Checking your child’s height and weight
  • Checking their teeth
  • Asking if they’re immunised
  • Asking you about your child’s learning and development, including strengths and difficulties
  • Asking you about their health and wellbeing
  • Giving advice and support

A vision and hearing expert will also check your child’s eyesight and hearing, perhaps at a different time from the B4 School Check. 

Afterwards, the nurse will discuss your child’s results and record them in your pre-schooler’s My Health Book. They’ll provide a medical referral if needed and also explain which results will be shared with your child’s doctor, ECE service and new school. 

What dental checks are available?

Thanks to the government, every child is entitled to free oral health care until they turn 18. This means parents should enrol children with their local Community Oral Health Service at birth (call 0800 825 583). 

Your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse will also check your youngster’s teeth and gums. 

What is the children’s spectacle subsidy?

When it comes to eyesight, the Children’s Spectacle Subsidy is a government payment of $287.50 per year that can be claimed for a child’s:

  • Eye examination
  • Spectacles (frames and lenses)
  • Eye patches 
  • Repairs

It is available to children aged 15 or under who meet certain clinical guidelines and:

  • Hold a valid community services card; 
  • Hold a current high use health card; or
  • Have a parent/guardian with a valid community services card

What support is there for children with hearing loss?

The government can also help with equipment (like hearing aids), education and support if your child has hearing loss. For more information, click here

What services are there for children with special needs?

Child Development Services help preschoolers who have a disability or who aren’t reaching their developmental milestones. 

These community-based Services require a medical referral. They assess children, organise intervention and health management services, and help youngsters achieve their potential. 

There are also special schools that provide ECE services for children with hearing loss or vision-impairment. 

Where can parents get more information about child health?

Here are some useful contacts for mums and dads:

Ministry of Health: This website provides information about health services and support.

Kidshealth: This website offers reliable information about children’s health conditions and treatment, plus their development.

Healthline: Call 0800 611 116 for 24/7 health advice about babies and children.

PlunketLine: Call 0800 933 922 for 24/7 for child health and parenting advice.

Community Oral Health Service: Call 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) to enrol your child in free oral health care.

Healthy Smiles: This New Zealand Dental Association website includes information about caring for babies’ and kids’ teeth.  

The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC): The National Immunisation Schedule offers free vaccines to infants and children. And IMAC’s website provides independent and factual information about vaccine-preventable diseases and immunisation.  

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