A pilot program, launched in 2014, enrolled over 175 families in Providence Talks and exposed the severity of the word gap problem in Providence: more than half of children in the program were hearing far fewer words than they needed for healthy brain development. After completing initial coaching sessions, however, those families who started out at the lowest levels increased the words spoken in their homes by 50%, moving from an average of 8,000 words per day to an average of 12,000 words per day. Research indicates that children should hear approximately 21,000 words per day for optimal development. Overall, 43% of pilot graduates had gains of 20% or more in their word counts, 29% had gains of 50% or more, and 10% doubled their word counts.
As Providence Talks has launched to scale, families participating engage in a year-long series of home visits from a trained early childhood educator. Home visits are focused on three things: interpreting the LENA Feedback report; practicing and modeling an early literacy skill like reading aloud and singing songs, and; setting goals and reflecting on progress to date. Each family receives a free book and other resources at each visit. The current data is showing strong results, with participating families increasing their rates of adult talk over time.
The full Providence Talks program launched in October, 2015. Since that time, the program’s Executive Leadership brought on additional non-profit, community based partners who have assisted in expanding our program to citywide scale. These partners include Federal Hill House, Child and Family RI, and Community Action Partnership of Providence. For questions about getting involved with Providence Talks, please contact us.