By Kathy L. Collins

Last month the Early Childhood Council of Hillsborough County, Inc., in partnership with local agencies and volunteers, held a developmental screening at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Tampa. Screenings are offered 12 times throughout the year at venues throughout Hillsborough County. This screening was special as it was a celebration of 30 years of offering developmental screenings by the Early Childhood Council.

The screenings are for children from 6 months of age to 5-years-old. They are offered free of charge to residents of Hillsborough County regardless of income. Children are screened for height, weight, vision, hearing, language, behavioral and overall development.

Erika Lindsey, a resident of Apollo Beach and a past president of the Early Childhood Council and current Board Member said, “We want all children to enter Kindergarten at the same level. If we wait until a child is in Kindergarten before detecting a problem, then they are at risk for falling behind. The screenings are designed to detect problems early and provide resources to help the child overcome the problem.”

“If a parent were to do the screenings on their own, they would have to visit at least eight different practitioners. This is expensive and time consuming,” added Lindsey.

The Early Childhood Council has been holding developmental screenings for 30 years. The majority of their funding comes from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County which is funded in part by the property taxes paid by Hillsborough County residents.

Kelly Parris is the executive director of the Children’s Board. Parris said, “Our mission is to ensure that children are ready to learn when they enter school. This is a good way to catch issues early so that all children have an opportunity.”

The next screening is on Friday, March 4 at Grace Point Plant City located at 1107 Charlie Griffin Rd. in Plant City. There are ones set in Lutz and Tampa in April and May, and then the screening will be offered at First United Methodist Church located at 121 N. Knights Ave. in Brandon on Thursday, June 9.

Screenings are held from 8:45-11:45 a.m. Please plan on being at the screening for several hours.

For more information and to make an appointment, call 837-7723.