Since mid-2014, two national groups with multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral representation have been working to update the programme.The updated child health programme is called the National Healthy Childhood Programme. The significant findings, emerging from the baseline work, that have influenced the programme are:
- Acknowledgement that the wider determinants of health play a significant part in child and adult health.
- Benefits of a child health programme based on a model of progressive universalism - help for all and more help for those who need it.
- Impact of the antenatal period on the development of the foetus.
- Importance of maternal mental health and infant mental health and development.
- Pivotal role of the parents in child development.
- Early identification of issues can enable early intervention to occur thus improving the outcomes for the child.
The new programme takes account of:
- The changing policy and strategic context - Healthy Ireland; Better Outcomes Brighter Futures; National Maternity Strategy; A Healthy Weight for Ireland.
- The notable developments such as the implementation of the newborn hearing screening programme, the emerging evidence on developmental surveillance and the ever increasing body of evidence highlighting the effectiveness of interventions that both promote health and prevent adverse outcomes are included in the rationale and content of each contact.
- The need to update and develop training programmes to underpin the delivery of the model.
- The requirement to work with all child health service providers to develop and deliver a child health model based on progressive universalism using standardised approaches to assessments.
Delivering the National Healthy Childhood Programme:
The programme will be implemented in stages. A considerable amount of the evidence-review, exploratory and planning activities required to update the current programme have already been completed. We are building on the strengths within the system and seeking to ensure the most effective use of current resources, including minimising duplication, in order to efficiently deliver the programme across care settings. The programme will align with current HSE policies and strategies, including those in respect of staff engagement.