Fewer two-year olds in Leeds reach development milestones
Fewer of Leeds’ two-year-olds are reaching key development milestones, new figures have revealed.
The charity Action for Children says it’s “deeply worrying” that some youngsters in the country are falling behind in their critical first years, and is urging the Government to reverse a decline in services caused by council budget cuts.
Public Health England data shows 89 per cent of children met expectations in five areas: communication, problem solving, social interaction, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills such as walking without falling and kicking a ball. That is down from 91.3 per cent over the same period in 2018.
Every three months, nursery nurses and health visitors examine thousands of children aged two to two-and-a-half years in England, to check mental and physical development, as part of the Healthy Child Programme.
The two-year health check, one of the key reviews of the programme, gives parents an insight into how well their child is progressing.
Latest statistics cover July to September last year, involving more than 100,000 youngsters from 128 council areas.
Across England, the proportion of children at or above the expected level in all five areas of development fell to 82.1 per cent in 2019 – putting Leeds above the national average.
More than two-thirds of children tested in the London borough of Brent failed to reach the five development targets – the lowest share in the country.
By contrast in Derbyshire, just 0.1 per cent of youngsters did not meet expectations.
Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: “It’s deeply worrying so many toddlers are falling behind when it comes to crucial skills like communicating and playing with other children. Rather than catching up, in some parts of the country we’re seeing youngsters falling further behind on some key building blocks they need.
“The Government must invest in our children by urgently reversing crippling cuts to council budgets, which have left them with no choice but to shrink or close these lifeline services on which parents rely,” he added.