Early Childhood Screening Research and Evaluation

Early detection and intervention are critical to ensuring the healthiest outcomes for children. The Early Childhood Screening Research and Evaluation Unit - commonly referred to as the Screening Unit - was established in 2006 to further our knowledge about the developmental trajectories of children with special needs, and in particular, those with sensory conditions, such as hearing loss or vision loss.  By investigating early detection and intervention initiatives, including the B.C. Early Hearing Program, the 3-Year-Old and Kindergarten Vision Screening Programs and the B.C. Early Childhood Dental programs, the Screening Unit is informing and thus improving early screening program planning, delivery and evaluation. The ultimate goal of this work is to improve the hearing, vision, and dental health status of young children across the province.

Research Projects

In collaboration with her research staff, colleagues from the provincial government and B.C. health authorities as well as dental hygienists, audiologists, eye doctors and early interventionists, Brenda Poon, Assistant Professor with HELP's Early Childhood Screening Research and Evaluation Unit, is the lead on three provincial early childhood screening programs related to hearing, vision and dental health.

Prospective Registry Development

HELP collaborated with B.C.'s Provincial Health Services Authority to develop the B.C. Early Hearing Program (BCEHP) Evaluation Framework and the Clinical information and tracking system, the B.C. Early Hearing Surveillance Tool (BEST). This system allows a multidisciplinary group of professionals who provide services to families as part of the early hearing program to record newborn hearing screening outcomes, diagnostic assessment results, and intervention information. This web-based system is one component of an integrated and coordinated service structure that can be used to monitor children’s developmental trajectories, as well as each child’s use of, and access to, the range of early hearing program services. It is also a key resource in the implementation of BCEHP processes for quality assurance and program evaluation. The BEST system is the first information system of its kind in B.C. that enables the capture and analysis of individual-level health and early intervention data for young children with hearing loss through to school entry.

Historical Data Abstraction Project

This project involves the creation of a provincial Historical Hearing Loss Registry. The objective of this is to examine the status and impact of early hearing loss identification for young children in B.C. This multi-phased project involves abstraction and compilation of data related to hearing and developmental status for deaf and hard of hearing children who have received services and support from early intervention services in B.C.

The primary aim of the initial phase of the research project is to collect baseline, historical data for children whose hearing losses were not identified through BC's newly implemented provincial early hearing detection and intervention program.

Vision Screening Program Evaluation

The Ministry Health engaged HELP to conduct a systematic four-year evaluation from 2007/2008 to 2010/2011 of the 3-Year-Old and Kindergarten Vision Screening Programs. The overall purpose of this evaluation is to assess the ability of these programs to identify early children with possible vision conditions including Amblyopia, Strabismus and Refractive Error and, in turn, improve the vision health status of young children in B.C.


Early Childhood Dental Programs Evaluation

In 2006, the Ministry of Health engaged HELP to conduct a systematic four-year evaluation of the BC Early Childhood Dental programs. The overall purpose of this evaluation is to assess the ability of these programs to improve the dental health status of children in B.C.

The following reports and summaries provide information about this project and its findings.


Early Detection of Dyslexia

Working in partnership with the Laboratory for Applied Research in Neurovision (LAPAN) in Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Screening Unit is conducting a collaborative study to learn more about the early signs of dyslexia in kindergarten students. Please visit the Kindergarten Dyslexia Screening Project page to learn more about this research project.