Ms Suzanne Finn1, Ms Jo Rann1, Ms Kylie Mulcahy1
1Burnie Child And Family Centre, Burnie, Australia
INTRODUCTION: AEDC data for Burnie shows that the Language and Cognitive Skills domain has had a significant increase in developmentally vulnerable and at risk children and a decrease in those on track since 2012. Anecdotally, we know in Burnie there is a high need for speech therapy for children under five years, and a long waiting list due to a lack of speech pathologists. There are certain evidence-based behaviours known to promote language and cognitive development in children such as reading to children every day from infancy and establishing strong, secure attachments between babies and their caregiver. We wondered how can we support parents to adopt these behaviours from pregnancy.
METHODS: Jo and Suzanne researched the specific elements of attachment, serve and return and language-building behaviour which is known to promote great all round and language development. This was used to first create a survey to ask parents what they were currently doing with regards to these behaviours. The feedback helped us then design an 8 week program to show parents which behaviours will get their child’s development on the right track from the get go. Each session was short and simple. It included a weekly topic, a short video, a rhyme to learn and an activity to do at home with baby.
RESULTS: We surveyed 20 women who were either pregnant or had a child under one year old. Results showed that there was broad understanding that talking, singing and reading books regularly to children was important, but there were some barriers to this actually occurring. 5 parents are currently attending the 8 week program and we are evaluating as we go. By the end of 2020, we will have a document to show the impact of the pilot program and its capability for scalability.
Suzanne Finn has led the way in bringing speech and language tools and strategies out of the therapeutic space and into the community space through her work at the Burnie Child and Family Centre. Jo Rann also works with whole families to respond to trauma and build capacity for families to recognise and respond to the needs of each member of the family. Kylie Mulcahy is the Centre Leader of the Burnie Child and Family Centre. Our CFC has a team of professionals working with families in responsive ways since 2012.