Early childhood education program Birmingham Talks expanding footprint in Alabama
A successful early childhood learning program is moving into other parts of Alabama in 2021.
Birmingham Talks, which as the expansion unfolds across the state will become “Alabama Talks,” is a system that deploys a piece of technology called a pedometer that calculates the number of words spoken in a child’s presence.
The pedometer is a wearable device that is meant to be kept on the person of the infant throughout the day. It was manufactured by the company LENA and is about the size of an iPod nano. The device records every word the baby hears.
After the device has been worn, the participating caregivers give the recording to an “experts coach” who reviews the data. That coach then “regularly meets with participants to explain how to increase the baby’s words heard,” according to the program’s website.
“Early participation feedback shows how much the technology component of our services resonates with millennial families. We look forward to exploring partnerships with communities across the state,” said Ruth Ann Moss, executive director of Birmingham Talks.
“A thriving community requires a prepared workforce, and that preparation starts at birth,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.
The city government of Birmingham has been a partner to Birmingham Talks since launch, and part of the expansion will see the program serve more communities within Birmingham.
“95% of a child’s brain develops within their first five years,” commented Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross.
Ross’ department received a $33 million grant in 2019, and some of that money will be going to help Birmingham Talks expand.
“Alabama Talks supports Alabama’s vision of developing a true birth to five continuum of services that enhances early learning and language acquisition, with the goal of reducing the achievement gap for children entering kindergarten,” Ross concluded.