Practice-Based Research Collaborative

The Practice-Based Research Collaborative concept emphasizes “rapid cycle, efficient, research and dissemination” efforts that produce practical information and tools linking success to their impact on outcomes. Beyond new knowledge that helps to serve families, children, home visitors, early educators, health practitioners, and community agencies, the benefits of these researcher-community partnerships include faster adoption of practices and training of providers. A mark of success for the Practice-Based Research Collaborative approach are the connections made to policymakers and private funders fostering continued cycles of experimentation and innovation. Read about the projects that participated in our first cohort of the Practice-Based Research Collaborative below.

Click the button below to see a map of past and present Practice-Based Research projects.

Contact: Mike English

KC Talks is a free 13-week program that will help close the 30 million word gap for caregivers through the use of LENA Research Foundation word pedometers combined with parent education curriculum. Participating families utilize “talk-pedometers,” (DLPs) and participate in weekly cohort meetings in which families discuss data collected by the DLPs. Families receive feedback reports during the visit through a process of data co-discovery and goal setting.

We are investigating the effectiveness of using the Community Literacy Toolkit programs to both raise awareness of the importance of talking and reading to young children and to mobilize parents, caregivers, teachers, and community members to increase early literacy. A special interest is demonstrating how community volunteers can help reduce the word gap.

View the community toolkit here

This social enterprise approach to ending the word gap monetizes parent outreach and education using market-driven principles from business, along with best practices in adult learning, social learning theory, behavioral psychology, and community development. The project’s focus is on bringing information directly to homes through events called “Heart to Hearts” that inform, entertain, and offer affordable resources.

The Pennsylvania Early Language Home Visiting Study is a small scale RCT study evaluating the impact of a research-based language intervention, PC TALK, along with a progress monitoring assessment, the Early Communication Indicator (ECI) within an implementation framework model (IHI). Children ages 18-30 months and their home visitors will participate in this project documenting progress toward the attainment of language goals within community-based home visiting programs serving children at risk for, and with, special needs.

Start Young is a collaboration, developed by the Family Conservancy, between child care centers and public and private community organizations in Wyandotte County. Start Young aims to increase access to high quality child care, since Wyandotte County only serves approximately 40% of families with young children. As part of this project, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project is partnering with local infant/toddler classrooms to provide a LENA Grow coaching intervention to enrich the classroom language environment.

Refugees in the U.S. experience many health disparities and are in need of innovative interventions. “Talk With Me Baby” (TWMB), a Georgia initiative, trains nurses to coach parents and caregivers to enhance the language environment of young children. This training provides an additional avenue for the delivery of the TWMB content to refugee parents and caregivers who are English language learners.


Watch a video about Talk With Me Baby here!

“Talk with Me Baby” is a project that teaches nurses, pediatricians, and public health providers about “Language Nutrition”–the important role that everyday language interactions between parents/caregivers and young children have in “building babies’ brains”. This project, which is a partnership among Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and researchers at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, is helping nurses teach parents about the importance of talking with their young children and showing them how to interact with their infants and young children within the context of well-child visits.


Watch a video about Talk With Me Baby here

Developing Talkers: Building Effective Teachers of Academic Language Skills examines ways to improve kindergarten teachers’ knowledge and use of evidence-based practices (EBP) for increasing students’ academic language skills. This project is taking place in the Houston metropolitan area. Across three cohorts, teachers will receive professional development and educative curriculum resources called Developing Talkers (DT). Teachers randomly assigned to the waitlist control group will continue business-as-usual instruction during the intervention phase and received condensed training and materials after the school year. We will use a randomized control trial evaluating the two contrasting curriculum approaches – softly scripted DT versus teacher-inspired DT. In a second stage of intervention, we will provide some teachers with additional coaching or professional learning community (PLC) opportunities. We will measure teacher knowledge of EBP and the quality of effective instructional behaviors during classroom observations. We will also assess cognitive and non-cognitive teacher traits.

Project ELLO (Everyday Language and Learning Opportunities) aims to reimagine how learning opportunities for young children can be embedded throughout familiar routines and community settings through positive, language-rich interaction. The ELLO team is made up of intentional community partnerships throughout Washington and Montana.

Rinse, Read, Spin, Talk: Using Laundromats To Support Early Learning In Undeserved Communities

Contact: Susan B. Neuman and Maya Portillo

Children from economically disadvantaged communities are likely to start kindergarten behind and stay behind their more well-to-do peers with little hope of catching up (Cunningham & Stanovich, 2000).  To address this persistent gap, many organizations including libraries, doctors’ offices and recreational centers have attempted to change the odds for low-income children by focusing on programs to improve early literacy skills.  Recognizing that the neighborhood is a unit of social change, programs that engage families in early reading and learning with their children have become increasingly part of the community landscape.

More recently, however, efforts to promote early literacy are finding families in a less conventional place: the local laundromat.Studies estimate that families spend as much as two to two-and-a half hours in each visit to the laundromat.  Consequently, laundromats have the potential to enhance children’s opportunity to learn, providing both the space, time, and materials to engage families in informal literacy activities.