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What is Nesta supporting Home Start UK to do?

Nesta is supporting Home-Start UK with £214,805 funding to scale the UK pilot of the US-based LENA Home™ model to 21 new areas across the country.

Following the successful pilot, this grant will allow Home-Start UK to expand their reach to 21 further areas across England, mobilising over 500 volunteers and helping over 900 more families to close the communication gap, ensuring that every child enters nursery and school ready to achieve and reach their full potential. Home Start UK will also be able to measure further impact on children’s developmental outcomes through this grant.

Who is Home Start UK?

Home Start UK is a leading volunteer based family support charity, providing a wide range of volunteer led services to young families in over 250 communities in the UK. Home Start UK is a national organisation, which supports and represents the local independent Home Starts across the four nations.

What is the programme that will be scaled?

LENA Home ™ is a US model whereby trained home coaches support parents to expand the frequency and range of conversations held with their young children. Data captured through a digital ‘word pedometer’, worn by the children for one day each week, is analysed by LENA and then informs guided conversations about when and how to improve communications.

The LENA System is a trade marked approach and standard for measuring talk with children from birth to three, a critical factor in early brain development. Used all over the world, LENA supports local initiatives to improve early language, to close gaps in cognitive, emotional, and social development, and to improve school readiness. Developed with the LENA Foundation and USA non-profit organisation Providence Talks, the LENA Home™ model works as an add on to existing parent coaching, home visiting programmes, and equips families with the tools to support child brain development through a combination of coaching and data to measure progress.

A word counter records all of what a child hears in the course of a day. Software analyses the recording and counts the number of words, the number of conversational turns and the amount of time the child is exposed to electronic media. The recordings are never listened to and are securely deleted. Each recording results in an easy to read feedback report that shows the family the progress they are making.

Within England, Home Start UK is currently piloting LENA Home™ using trained volunteers in Oldham, Southwark, Leeds and Dorset. Families participating in the programme are paired with a volunteer coach, who meets them regularly to explain how they can increase the number of words their children hear; tailoring their support to the family’s individual needs and using the word count and conversation data to measure progress.

Ambitions for the Early Years Savers Support Fund

The grant will enable Home-Start UK to test for the first time the efficacy of LENA Home™ as a volunteer led programme, and will support the development of a local commissioning model that can be scaled via the Home-Start network in England.

How this opportunity relates to wider Home-Start UK goals

The LENA Home™ programme will be a valuable addition to Home-Start’s existing home visiting work, as it continues to develop the range and diversity of evidence based volunteer led services it offers to families.