The charity provides over 100 community based services to disadvantaged and socially isolated families across England. This includes managing Children’s Centres in Mansfield where they work closely with local health visitors and speech and language therapists. As part of Nottinghamshire’s multi-agency Language for Life Strategy a Play and Learning Worker delivers the Home Talk intervention to parents of children at risk of language delay.
Children are identified by health visitors using a traffic light screening system devised by the children’s centres speech and language therapy service. While children with significant needs are offered referral to speech and language therapy, there are a range of other preventative options including Home Talk for those who may benefit from some targeted support. The Family Action Play and Learning Worker in West Mansfield has been going into homes of each identified child once a week for 6 weeks to work with parents to encourage communication around routines, play and the children’s interests. Over the past two years she has seen 30 children, and only 4 have needed further referral to speech and language therapy.
There has been increasing interest in primary prevention, and a number of areas with multi-agency strategies including Nottinghamshire (Language for Life), Sheffield (ESCAL) and Stoke on Trent (Stoke Speaks Out) were commended by Communication Champion Jean Gross in her final report, but such initiatives are under-represented in the research literature. An exception is the Babytalk Home Visiting service, a collaborative primary preventative intervention in Portsmouth. This has been written up in Child Language Teaching & Therapy and, following an encouraging evaluation, is due to have a controlled comparative study.