May 27, 2019
The smallTALK program recently entered the 10,000th child into their database which is a significant milestone! It is not surprising given that an average of 500 new referrals to the eight hospital system are received annually; however, it is a big round number! The vast majority of referrals come directly from parents, with referrals also received from community partners such as: Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, EarlyON centre staff, Resource Consultants and primary care providers.
Early identification efforts through the support of the enhanced 18-month Well Baby visit and the Calling All Three Year Olds (early kindergarten registration process) ensures the ability to meet the Ministry's expectation of reducing the average age of identification. The program's ‘No Wrong Door' referral process, a product of the Kids First Huron Perth integration commitment to identification of children at risk, has resulted in many children being referred to smallTALK through community agencies who otherwise may not have been identified.
An exciting initiative the program is undertaking is the expansion of their early literacy efforts. smallTALK has supported the Read To Baby Book Project since 2015 and has provided over 6,000 Read to Baby bundles. The goal of this project is to ensure every child in Huron and Perth has at least one book to get them on the road to literacy.
Recently one of our community partner agencies reported that there is a group of care providers who suddenly find themselves as guardians of their grandchildren long after the have purged their homes of children's books. In response to this the Early Literacy Network has partnered with the Huron Perth Children's Aid Society (CAS) to prepare and distribute an enhanced Read to Baby bundle for those families who would benefit.
The hope is that this enhanced bundle can continue to be distributed as long as the CAS continues to place children in the care of their grandparents. You might want to consider providing support through a donation to the Foundation for Educationa charitable organization that supports the project. Read more about this through recent press coverage:
With the support of Dr. Kirsten Blaine's office another exciting initiative is the Prescription to Read, which is distributed to babies through the Health Babies Healthy Children program home visitors. Starting this May the smallTALK program will be partnering with our Infant Hearing Program community screening agencies to distribute the script to infants during the office visit for a screening. We can't get the message of reading to babies out too early!
Learn more about the smallTALK program by clicking here.