Children’s Readiness Gap Bridged by Collaboration

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Colquitt County Family Connection Collaborative on Children and Families will celebrate the statewide launch of an extensive collaboration with the Talk With Me Baby (TWMB) initiative during a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 8 a.m. at the Colquitt Regional Medical Center’s Friedlander Conference Room.

TWMB is a public action campaign aimed at coaching parents and caregivers on Language Nutrition—language sufficiently rich in engagement, quality, quantity, and context that it nourishes the child neurologically, socially, and linguistically.

Sixty-one percent of children from low-income backgrounds have no children’s books at home and hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers by the time they begin school.

The Georgia Family Connection Collaborative is spearheading an effort to change these statistics by collaborating with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), Bright from the Start (DECAL), their Early Education Empowerment Zone (E3Z), the Georgia Commission on Women, and the Colquitt Regional Medical Center to offer TWMB’s Language Nutrition resources to parents of newborns.

It is projected that 700 babies will be born at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in 2017, and every one of their mothers will go home with a TWMB DVD produced by DPH along with other supplementary materials that highlight the necessity of “feeding” words to their babies. DPH will also provide free training for the OB-GYN nurses and other professionals who interact with mothers and babies.

Narrative conversation with babies at the earliest ages stimulates brain development and builds language, literacy, and social emotional skills. Eighty-five percent of all neurons are developed by age three, and simply talking to babies drastically improves their chances of academic success.

“The goal is for the word to spread that a baby needs direct eye contact and constant interaction by talking, reading, playing games, holding, and loving them,” said Janet Sheldon, executive director of the Colquitt County Collaborative. “This is the most active time of brain development in a human and without stimulation, will not develop to the full potential.”

Read a related story in The Moultrie Observer.

Janet Sheldon
Colquitt County Family Connection

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director