Health services for pre-school children
The Health Service Executive (HSE) provides a health screening service for pre-school children that is free of charge. This service may be provided at health centres.
Services for pre-school children are provided by public health nurses and Area Medical Officers that are employed by the HSE. All public health nurses take direct referrals from parents.
Public health nurses are notified of all births in their area - either by the hospital where the birth occurred or by the midwife who was present for a home birth. Following the birth, your public health nurse will visit you and your child at home free of charge, usually within 72 hours of returning home from hospital.
Public health nurses provide both general health and specific developmental advice to parents and monitor the development of the child.
A developmental examination is offered to every child by the Area Medical Officer at approximately 9 months, by appointment, in the local health centre. This examination covers all aspects of the child's development, including hearing, sight, language development, physical development, etc, and is offered to infants irrespective of the family's income.
Problems that are identified at this examination may be treated free of charge at out-patient hospital departments and any subsequent treatment is free as a public patient.
How to apply
In general, it is not necessary to apply for a developmental assessment for your child at 9 months as your Local Health Office routinely sends out the appointments. Most Local Health Offices offer additional doctor and public health nurse appointment clinics for those parents who have concerns about their child's development.