I CAN, the children’s communication charity wins funding from Big Lottery Fund to develop pioneering support for Toddlers’ language growth.
The children’s communication charity is set to receive £191,000 over the next two years to create ‘Tots Talking’. The project is aimed at improving the life chances of two year olds by working with their parents and carers to improve their speech, language and communication skills. ‘Tots Talking’ is currently being piloted in Knowsley, Merseyside, which has been identified as an area of disadvantage. The funding will also go towards working with parents and carers to develop sessions and an innovative app that is intended to be an easy-access tool for them to engage with their child’s language development.
Communication is the fundamental life skill – Language ability at ages three and four predicts later reading comprehension through secondary school. Research into children’s speech and language supports I CAN’s push to develop a new programme that can support the families most at risk. Gaps in language development between children from affluent and disadvantaged families open up early in life - as early as three years of age. A child in the lowest income group was on average 17.4 months behind a child in the highest income group at age three with their language development..
Bob Reitemeier, I CAN’s Chief Executive says, “I CAN is incredibly excited to receive the funding from Big Lottery Fund. The development of ‘Tots Talking’ marks a significant drive to work in new communities that have been identified as hard to reach and have had a historically poor relationship with offered support. I CAN’s intention is for the intervention to be developed with the needs of families from these communities at its very core.”
‘Tots Talking’ currently consists of weekly workshops for parents/carers of two year olds who may be at risk of delayed language development. The effects of delayed language on life chances are huge. Only 15.8% of pupils with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) gain five or more GCSEs A*-C, including Maths and English – compared to 64.2% of their peers.
Kate Freeman, I CAN’s Director of Regional Development commented on the significance of the location for the pilot. “In April 2017, I CAN launched a three year regional approach (the Place Strategy) with the aim of working in partnership with local people and organisations to increase the focus on speech, language and communication skills and support for children and young people with SLCN. As part of this strategy it is important to target specific areas like Knowsley where families struggle to engage with support agencies. Research has shown that early intervention in developing speech, language and communication is crucial in giving children the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Research into SLCN has shown that; early language skills at age five are linked with employment outcomes at age 34.
I CAN would also like to thank I CAP for generously supporting the project. For more information about I CAN, please visit our website.