A local initiative to support children’s speech, language and communication has helped over 900 children in Bray, according to a new report.
‘Sustainability Through Collaboration’ is an interim report about the Chatterboxes project, which is a collaboration between several agencies include the HSE Primary Care team in Wicklow and Bray Area Partnership’s Supporting Parents and Early Childhood Services (SPECS) project.
The Chatterboxes projects aims to help children to reach their potential through working with key adults in the lives of children. This included working with parents, teachers, and early year services to provide speech and language therapy supports. A new model was developed for the Bray area, which included training for creche staff, teachers and others working with children. Drop-in clinics and parent and child groups were also created to offer advice and support.
Since 2018, Chatterboxes has trained over 70 professionals from local early years services and primary schools. Eight creches and six schools from Bray and north Wicklow took part in the project. The interim report said staff working in early year services reported more confidence in working with children with communication difficulties. Children who took part in the project were also found to interact and talk more with their teachers.
The report’s authors highlighted that parents are the best resource for developing language skills in children. The report recommended that resources to support and inform parents are enhanced.
It also states that the project led to greater collaboration between local schools, creches and the speech and language team through training and mentoring, though the report suggests time constraints are a challenge for all agencies. It also called for long-term funding for the project, to ensure its results are sustained.
Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly launched the interim report.
He said: “I am delighted to launch the interim report of the Chatterboxes initiative. I wish to congratulate the HSE Management team in Wicklow and Bray Area Partnership on this successful initiative supported by Tusla’s Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme and Supporting Parents and Childhood Services (SPECS) and my colleague Roderic O’Gorman TD, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. By taking a prevention and early intervention approach to speech, language and communication needs, this initiative is changing the lives of children and their families.”