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With a National Campaign to Narrow the Word Gap, LAUP Attends Clinton Global Initiative America

Los Angeles – At the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting, which kicked off today, the Los Angeles County early education nonprofit, LAUP, presented the progress of its Take Time. Talk! campaign, a CGI America Commitment to Action which aims to close the 30-million word gap that exists between young children of low- and high-income households.

LAUP is a nonprofit that has provided quality preschool services for more than 640 preschools and more than 105,000 children in Los Angeles County. As an organization that rates and coaches preschools and other early care and education sites, LAUP’s style of early education coaching includes training teachers how to listen to young children and speak to them using open-ended questions and observations. This field work was used to develop Take Time. Talk!, which includes a set of tools to help parents increase their verbal interactions with infants, toddlers and preschool-age children.

The “Take Time. Talk!” word-building tools come in two forms: a set of 5” by 9” tent cards, used to help educators train other teachers and parents, and a pocket-sized accordion that can be taken on the go. Using a variety of conversation prompts and colorful imagery, the tools model how to talk more in-depth with infants, toddlers and preschool-age children in a variety of settings.

“In families that talk more, they tend not to just repeat themselves. They tend to elaborate. They’re building up knowledge,” said Dr. Anne Fernald, Director of Infant Studies at Stanford University, and one of the advisors to LAUP’s CGI America commitment.

“Words enrich children’s lives from the time they are born, but sometimes parents do not know how to talk to their babies and young children,” said Dr. Celia C. Ayala, CEO of LAUP. “The supplemental tools that we created help parents—help all of us—think about ways to engage children more through words, helping them interact with the world around them and giving them the vocabulary skills they need to be successful in that world.”

In addition, LAUP has agreed to support the local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CLGR) in Los Angeles as it tests and validates enhanced strategies to address three challenges to early reading proficiency – school readiness, attendance and summer learning. The work also will emphasize supporting parents and addressing health issues that can impede early learning.

LAUP’s support will be crucial in preparing for the launch in 2017 of an initiative known as “More Hopeful Futures,” which was spotlighted today in Denver during the CGI America conference.  More Hopeful Futures will be the next phase of the campaign’s effort to increase reading proficiency, building on the early progress and ongoing work of the more than 160 communities that are part of the campaign, which commits to helping at least 50,000 more children get on the path to becoming proficient readers in third grade by 2018. CGLR will use LAUP’s Take Time. Talk! tools as part of its outreach to children and families.

National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders, and four-fifths of those from low-income families, are not reading proficiently.  Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and later success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”  Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of school and struggle throughout their lives.