A team of UNLV researchers recently conducted a statewide study resulting in the first-ever comprehensive health status report on children entering kindergarten in Nevada.
The Nevada Kindergarten Health Survey was conducted by UNLV’s Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy (NICRP) in partnership with the Southern Nevada Health District, the Nevada State Health Division, and the Clark County School District.
The survey was administered by 15 of the state’s 17 school districts in the fall of 2008. Its goal was to provide baseline data on the overall health status of children entering school.
“With this new information we can begin to identify health issues that may ultimately affect the wellbeing of children, in and out of school, and implement strategies to make improvements,” says Denise Tanata Ashby, executive director of the NICRP.
The 22-question survey gathered information on a variety of variables, including insurance status, access to health care, immunizations, weight, and health behavior.
The survey was distributed to parents of the estimated 30,744 entering kindergartners. More than 11,000 surveys were collected. Among the findings:
• 36 percent of kindergartners were either overweight or at-risk of being overweight.
• 18 percent had no health insurance coverage.
• 25 percent indicated using emergency rooms or urgent care facilities for non-life threatening illnesses in the past 12 months.
The researchers hope the study’s data will be used to identify and remediate health disparities and may ultimately lead to increased academic success among Nevada’s students.
“Studies have shown that there are definite links between the health status of a child and the child’s academic success,” Tanata Ashby says. “If we can track the trends that may be affecting the health status of children, we can target parent outreach and resources and ultimately increase both the wellbeing and academic success of children in our state.”
The full report is available online at http://nic.unlv.edu.