COLUMBIA — The scene at the Parents As Teachers office Thursday afternoon was hectic, hot and raucous as 47 children, ages 6 months to 5 years, were screened for hearing and vision problems. The screenings were part of the program's free screening service, which is carried out along with the MU Department of Communication Science Disorders and the Missouri Lion's Eye Research Foundation.
"This is the busiest I've ever seen it," said Barbara McLay, clinical associate professor and graduate program director of the School of Health Professions at MU. The monthly event averages about 18 children.
February's screening was canceled because of snow, said Belinda Masters, Parents As Teachers coordinator. Because of the cancellation, the office dealt with an unusually high number of patients Thursday. The long wait caused some families to leave before their names were called.
Kylie Vaughn brought her 16-month-old son Connelly for the first time to get screened. "Given that it's a program offered, it makes it easy to come in," Vaughn said.
The monthly screenings are free and available to all children living in the Columbia Public School district. The screenings rotate from morning to evening times every month to accommodate schedules. The program encourages parents to have their children screened at least once a year.
"It's a wonderful resource," Sarah Catlin-Dupuy said of the program. Catlin-Dupuy brought her two sons, Dante, 3, and Victor, 7 months, to get screened. "It's good to catch problems early," she said.
More than 3,457 families and 4,100 children in the Columbia area are members of the Parents As Teachers program, according to the program's Web site. No eligibility requirements are needed.
The next screening will be held in April at the Parents As Teachers office at 555 Vandiver Drive.