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Inspired by Providence Talks, the first-ever Grand Prize Winner of the Mayors Challenge, Hartford will Expand Robust Programming for Children that Increases their Exposure to Words and Conversation, a Crucial Intervention for Vocabulary Building, Brain Development, and School Readiness

Hartford joins Birmingham, AL; Detroit, MI; Louisville, KY; and Virginia Beach, VA

HARTFORD, CONN (September 24, 2019) –The City of Hartford was selected as one of five American cities that will replicate Providence Talks, an early childhood education program that empowers parents and caregivers with tools to support language development at a critical age and help children enter kindergarten classroom ready. Combined with local investments, the support provided across five cities totals nearly $12 million over three years.

Supported byBloombergPhilanthropies, through its What Works Cities initiative, Hartfordis launching Hartford Talks, an expansion of The Village for Families & Children’s Words Count program, to serve Hartford children, parents and caregivers.

The other four cities that are replicating Providence Talks are: Birmingham, AL; Detroit, MI; Louisville, KY; and Virginia Beach, VA.

Research shows that in the child’s first three years, talking is one of the most critical factors driving brain growth and kindergarten readiness. With funding fromBloombergPhilanthropies, Hartford will implement Hartford Talks, replicating the successful Providence Talks initiative that improves the “talk environment” for low-income families.  The Village for Families and Children, the City’s major partner in this initiative, piloted their own Words Count home-visiting model in 2017 with positive results. The City of Hartford’s early childhood infrastructure will support the implementation and scaling of Providence’s professional development model.

“Making sure our youngest minds are prepared for kindergarten can have a powerful impact on their long-term development and success, and we are thrilled to bring this proven model to Hartford,” said Mayor Luke Bronin.  “I want to thankBloombergPhilanthropies for their generous support to bring this innovative program to Hartford, and I want to thank The Village for Families and Children for partnering with us to make Hartford Talks a reality.

“We know that the early years of a child’s life are critical to setting the stage for academic success,” said Galo Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Village. “We’re excited to partner with the City of Hartford andBloombergPhilanthropies on this initiative to help our city’s children thrive.”

The Hartford initiative was inspired by Providence Talks,the first-ever Grand Prize Winner of theBloombergPhilanthropies Mayors Challenge, an innovation competition for cities. The winners of the challenge are cities with bold, inventive ideas that address urgent challenges and have the most potential for impact and the ability to spread to other cities.

“Providence Talks shows just why we launched the Mayors Challenge: to help cities take on big challenges, test innovative ideas, and then spread what works best,” said Michael R.Bloomberg, founder ofBloombergLP andBloombergPhilanthropies and the 108th Mayor of New York City. “Providence Talks has had promising results, helping thousands of young children increase their language development. Today, we’re glad to help five new cities adapt the program and work to achieve similar progress."

The programprovides families with a small recordingdeviceknown as a “word pedometer” thatcounts adult words spoken in a child’s presence, as well as the number of conversational interactions a child engages in during the day. Research shows that robust exposure to words and conversation—from birth to agefouris crucial for children’s vocabulary building and brain development.

A Brown University study of Providence Talks found:

  • Children who participated in the program made significant gains in the number of words they heard and turns they took in conversations and in language development.
    • In the Home Visitation model, 56% of all children showed growth in the number of adult words they heard and 42% increased their number of turns taken in conversations.
    • In the Playgroup model, 73% of all the children showed growth in the number of adult words they hear daily and 56% increased their number of turns taken in conversations. 
  • The largest gains were seen in children who started the furthest behind. These children, on average, showed a 51% growth in the number of adult words they hear daily, going from an average of 8,000 to over 12,100 words per day. This jump from the 11th to the 42nd percentile in eight months is substantial, moving from the lowest quartile of words heard to about the average level.
  • By the end of the program, children in the program showed, on average, a 15-percentile point increase in the Developmental Snapshot score, a tool used to measure a child’s development progress (or language skills).

BloombergPhilanthropies will support this programming with grants in each city. Cities will also receive the technology and software, including talk pedometer devices, software, and other tools required to replicate the approach. These critical technological resources are provided byLENA, a national nonprofit organization that develops technology to measure talk.

For more information on the Providence Talks replication program, please


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