An impotant part of the Talking Takes Off (TTO) programme is to hear the views of and work with parents, carers and families.

This will ensure that key messages for parents across Luton are designed in a practical way to engage parents.

There has been lots of parental engagement opportunities over the past months including meeting parents at Picnic in the Park, and members of the TTO team have met with parents from the Parent Carer Forum, mature ESOL students and have spoken to a group of Asian Elders to promote the project and to identify ways in which it can best reach out to their families in the community.

Speech and Language Therapists provide treatment and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, eating and drinking and swallowing.

This includes identifying, diagnosing and supporting needs in all aspects of communication, such as interaction skills, understanding language, using language, speech sounds, stammering and voice difficulties. Working closely with the child, their parents/carers, education staff and other health professionals amongst others, we offer tailored support to each individual child linked to their specific needs, to help them communicate better in their daily lives.

The Paediatric NHS Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) service in Luton is funded by Luton and Bedfordshire CCGs, with the exception of one new post for our special school’s team, which is jointly commissioned by the local authority and the CCG.

The preschool team is based at two locations in Luton, Redgrave Gardens and Liverpool Road Health Centre, however we see children in a range of community settings.

At a national level, 7.6% of children (two in every class of 30) start school with a Developmental Language Disorder and a further 2.3% of children start school with a language disorder linked to another condition, such as learning difficulties or hearing problems.

At the time of writing, we have 484 children on our preschool caseloads. There are 1,300 children on our entire Luton paediatric caseload, which includes the preschool children, school aged children in both mainstream and special schools and our Youth Offending Service post.

This is covered by a total of 7.3 whole time equivalent Speech and Language Therapists when the team is fully staffed.

Early Outcomes Fund Key Milestones for delivery 2019/2020

As part of our application for funding we developed a Theory of Change that would be the framework for our systems change for early communication and language development.

The following are some of the key milestones we will deliver as part of grant.

1. Early years Language & Communication Strategy, to be completed by June 2019.

2. Develop an Early years Language and Communication Workforce Plan offering training at a universal and specialist level. Free training will begin in October 2019.

3. Key early year’s communication and language messages to be launched from September 2019 onwards.

4. Launch of the new Early Year’s communication and language pathway September 2019.

5. Launch of new screening tool September 2019.

6. Establish Communication Champions at elected members, strategic leaders and operational leader’s levels from the summer onwards.

7. Develop our sustainability plan linking with Flying Start.

The Theory of Change visit www.flyingstartluton.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Ap pendix-I-Theory-of-Change.pdf

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF… an ICAN Volunteer

ICAN volunteers are volunteers who have been trained on babies brain development and early communication and language messages. They work in the community to share this information with parents. My childminding day starts at 7.30 and ends at 6pm with my daily drop off and pick up and handovers which naturally offers opportunities to include key messages from ICAN. Once all my minded children have arrived, we routinely go to a childminder group, the zoo or park, these locations once again offer the opportunity for me to come into contact with other practitioners, parents and carers. It never ceases to amaze me how I get chatting about ICAN and dependent on the audience, gauging which message to share. The school walk offers another great opportunity chatting to parents who are going to collect their children with younger siblings in tow. Reflecting on the audience I have at my disposal is never ending and includes ‘Beavers’ where I am an assistant leader. Even on my days off I find myself chatting to various people at appointments such as the hairdressers, doctors, at the gym and lots more besides. My eyebrow technician is my classic example of how important and easily shared the key messages are in the community. She was pregnant and I shared one key message – communication starts before birth.

Debbie Else