Aiming for Success from Birth: Community Programs to End the Poverty of Words

Friday, February 17, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 202 (Hynes Convention Center)
Young children who live in poverty are likely to hear 30 million fewer words than more socioeconomically advantaged peers by three years of age. This early gap has a profound impact and persists into school-age, when these children enter school with fewer words to deploy toward achieving academic and vocational success. The gap does not seem to close, despite aggressive educational initiatives that target curricular policies and remedial programs. Policymakers from mayors’ offices to the White House are searching for ways to engage non–education-based stakeholders in creative solutions to this pressing problem. Members of the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network have demonstrated successful implementation of innovative, interdisciplinary, community and population-level initiatives to nourish the language environments of at-risk children, beginning at birth. This session discusses several of these efforts, including the only U.S. state-wide initiative to bridge the word gap by integrating language nutrition coaching into the work of the state’s nursing and WIC (women, infants, and children) nutritionist workforces. Another program builds on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to promote literacy in primary care, integrating a major metro area’s pediatric health initiative with public library outreach. The session also will discuss a citywide program to monitor and counsel parents and childcare providers using a “word pedometer.” Based on these examples, speakers will discuss ways to develop policies and practices that combat what is increasingly called “the lifetime problem of a poverty of words.”
Nan Bernstein Ratner, University of Maryland, College Park
Anne Larson, Bridging the Word Gap National Research Network
Dale Walker, University of Kansas
Ashley Darcy Mahoney, George Washington University School of Nursing
Aiming to Cure Generational Poverty With Four Simple Words: Talk With Your Baby
Alan Mendelsohn, New York University School of Medicine
Bridging the Word Gap by Linking Pediatric Health Care and Community Services