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Cork City Partnership - Happy Talk

Project Origins

Happy Talk is a 3 year demonstration project running from April 2011-April 2014. It emerged from The Glen Language and Learning Project, a joint initiative of Cork City Partnership Ltd (LCDP) and the Health Service Executive (HSE), which was run on a pilot basis over a one-year period ending in June 2008. As a result of the pilot there was evidence that children in the Glen had delayed language greater than in more disadvantaged areas and that this was impacting on their school readiness and subsequent educational attainment levels and that early intervention could contribute to addressing these shortcomings. 

Happy Talk Today

Following the pilot, Cork City Partnership LCDP sourced private funding from Tomar Trust, a local philanthropic organisation to develop a further early years language intervention project for delivery in the Glen and neighbouring Mayfield area.  Subsequently, Cork City Partnership secured matched public funding from Pobal through its National Early Years Access Initiative (NEYAI).

Happy Talk aims to improve the language abilities of the children aged 0-6 years through parent programmes and working with teachers and childcare providers, to develop a community environment that is rich in language and to support children with specific difficulties to link in with appropriate services.  Finally, it aims to monitor and evaluate the impact of the project.

Happy Talk staff comprises a coordinator, two speech and language therapists (SLTs) and a part-time consultant senior speech and language therapist.

Happy Talk is supported by a Consortium comprising: Cork City Partnership which is the lead agency, the HSE, Barnardos, Cork City Childcare Company, Cork City Council, UCC and City of Cork VEC.

Positive Results and Evaluations

Junior Infant children involved in the first year of the Happy Talk programme were assessed using standardised speech and language therapy assessments in Nov-Dec 2011.  The children were found to have a 60% speech and / or language delay.  Following the delivery of the Happy Talk programme the children were re-assessed in May-June 2012.  The percentage of children experiencing speech and / or language delay had dropped to 40%

Pobal staff recently made a site visit to Happy Talk and saw the project in action in joint Public Health Nurse (PHN) / Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) clinics, in a community crèche and in the Junior Infant classroom.  A similar site visit was made by members of Tomar Trust.  Both reviews were very positive. 

Pobal commented on

  • The basing of SLTs at community level as a positive model
  • The variety of skills employed from coaching and training to developing programmes tailored to the needs of the different settings including PHN clinics, crèches, pre-schools and junior infant classes. 
  • The breadth of the project which in addition to core programmes delivered by SLTs includes
    • a focus on supporting transitions from pre-school to primary school,
    • promoting a language rich environment through auditing book areas and whole settings,
    • developing community based posters with tips for supporting children’s language for display in settings and on local buses,
    • the involvement of VEC tutors and inputs on third level childcare courses.

Tomar Trust has expressed an interest in tracking the children through to adulthood and is engaging in initial discussions related to extending the project.

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