smalltalk program receives funding boost to explore national rollout
6 October, 2022
Improving the learning outcomes of young children living in families able to benefit from additional support is the focus of funding recently awarded to the Parenting Research Centre (PRC).
The Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF) has provided the funding to investigate the viability of rolling out the successful smalltalk program across Australia.
Developed by PRC and currently funded in Victoria by the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, smalltalk is a set of evidence-based parenting strategies that parents can use to enhance the home learning environment for their children from birth to school age.
These strategies are shared with parents by a trained facilitator during supported playgroup sessions, with some parents also eligible for in-home support to help them use the smalltalk strategies at home.
PRC CEO Warren Cann said the $350,000 in funding will provide the opportunity to discover what it will take to support the roll-out of the program beyond Victoria.
“We know that supporting families in their parenting helps children thrive, and we are proud of our smalltalk program and the impact it has had in Victoria in improving learning outcomes for children before they start school.
“We’ve previously worked with the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing to roll out and scale up smalltalk across Victoria, and we are grateful to the Paul Ramsay Foundation to allow us to now investigate whether it would be feasible to make smalltalk available to other families around Australia who would also benefit.”
Yasmin Narielvala, PRF’s Head of Partnerships, said the funding was to test the possibility of scaling up the program on a national level.
“We can clearly see the evidence base for smalltalk’s potential to be a national success. We look forward to working with the Parenting Research Centre on exploring the possibility of a national rollout, and to find out what sort of impact it could have on the lives of children across Australia.”
The project is expected to be complete by June 2023. PRC will engage partners with specialised skills to help deliver the project.
smalltalk aims to increase parents’ confidence to do the things we know can have a positive impact on their child’s learning. It is about using everyday opportunities and the activities that many parents already do in the home to enhance their children’s learning and development. These include the way they talk, listen and play with their children, read together and how they engage them in interesting and stimulating activities.
smalltalk also includes ideas on how parents can look after themselves and helps build links with their community and local services.