Bridging the Word Gap 3.0
Community Partner #6:
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Ashley Darcy Mahoney and Melissa Baralt
Háblame Bebé is a free, bilingual parent coaching app that supports Hispanic parents in (1) promoting their child’s bilingualism, (2) supporting early brain development, and (3) promoting cultural pride. Partnering with the public library system and funded by the National Library of Medicine, Háblame Bebé teaches about the benefits of the public library and helps parents to track their child’s bilingual development. Háblame Bebé also assists parents in monitoring their children’s LTSAE developmental milestones. The app was designed and tested across three phases as mandated by the US HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau. In 2017, Háblame Bebé won the very first federal challenge to bring an app-delivered educational resource to families at scale.
Low-income Hispanic parents and caregivers
We propose to implement into the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), the evidence-based phone app Háblame Bebé (Talk To Me Baby) through a randomized, controlled trial with 50 mother-child dyads in southern Florida. Háblame Bebé has been demonstrated to increase Hispanic sociolinguistic pride (i.e., feelings of being proud to speak Spanish, to be bilingual, and to be Hispanic), and to improve parent-child language interactions in Spanish, but has not been tested for use in home visiting programs. We hypothesize that layering this innovative Spanish-language parent education support app into NFP standards of care will: (a) increase Spanish-speaking caregivers’ knowledge of language development and the importance of promoting bilingual language development; (b) increase mothers’ pride in using the home language in interactions with their young child; and (c) promote frequent, high-quality language interactions between primary caregivers and their children in the home language, Spanish, thereby supporting bilingual development.
In the context of US language ideology, Hispanic parents need community and societal support to raise their children bilingually in English and Spanish. Maintaining the heritage language is important for Hispanic culture and families, and is tied to health and education outcomes. Bilingualism can result in significant socioemotional, cognitive, and even economic benefits for parents and children. Increased parent awareness of and access to evidence-based screening tools can also improve care providers-parent communication for the purpose of discovering parents’ concerns and improving observations of their children’s development. By educating low-income Hispanic parents about 1) what to expect in their child’s development (and the benefits of monitoring development), 2) how they have an empowered role to promote bilingual language development, and 3) how to do so in community, the care provider-parent relationship can improve, and, in turn, enhance parent-child relationships. This can also improve the relationship between the provider and parent.
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