Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, Sight Savers America is utilizing newly developed software to make KidCheck wireless in over 10 participating school systems.  We are calling these new wireless screenings “KidCheck Plus”.  In May 2011, the Verizon Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to the Sight Savers America KidCheck Program to fund the rollout of this paper-eliminating software to automate health screenings for 16,000 Alabama children.  A joint news conference was held with Sight Savers America and Verizon executives at the Capitol in conjunction with Governor Bentley, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, and State School Superintendent Dr. Joe Morton to announce this grant.

This current grant will expand the size and the scope of the successful wireless KidCheck pilot projects that the Verizon Foundation funded in 2010.  Through this grant, the Bullock and Macon County School Systems successfully demonstrated the impact of wireless technology for KidCheck in conjunction with Auburn University.

The current Verizon Foundation grant will fund a new technology system utilizing wireless devices to eliminate paper from the screening process.  Participating school children will receive a printed sticker with an automatically generated unique number.  Each screening station will be equipped with a wireless device such as a netbook computer.  College nursing students providing the screenings will then enter the child’s number into the netbook computer or other wireless device and enter the screening results for that child.  At the end of the screening process, each child’s Parent Report Form is automatically generated showing what screenings the child received and what problems were noted.  This report is then sent home to the parent and the school nurse will receive an electronic copy of the results to keep on file at the school.  The grant also establishes the first central information repository for KidCheck allowing automatic vision referrals to Sight Savers America where case managers will be able to manage follow-up care immediately after each screening event.  The grant also funds on-site training for the participating college nursing faculty and students as well as technical support of each screening event.

The elimination of the current paper screening process will be a strong benefit to the screening and the follow-up process.  Wireless SSA KidCheck school systems will be able to select from a menu of health screening options in order to customize the health screenings to best fit the needs of their students.  The new wireless system will eliminate the large amounts of paperwork for participating school nurses resulting in a more timely and efficient process.  The automation of necessary vision referrals will allow Sight Savers America to contact parents in a matter of days or weeks whereas it had often taken months for school nurses to submit paper-based vision referrals to Sight Savers due to the burden of effort and the limitation of resources.  By eliminating this waiting period for the referrals, children will receive necessary follow-up vision treatments much more rapidly.  In addition, the wireless database will prevent school nurses from having to process all of the KidCheck results manually.  This will allow school nurses to direct children failing other types of screenings to physicians in a more timely and organized fashion.