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The Department for Education (DfE) has appointed I CAN, the children’s communication charity, to head up its Early Language Development Programme (ELDP).

The £1.3 million funded Programme is a three-year project to ensure that more young people develop the language skills they need before they start school. Working with children’s centres, the initiative aims to give Early Years practitioners and parents the skills and knowledge they need to support speech, language and communication development in young children. There will be a particular focus on children up to the age of two years old and their families in England’s most disadvantaged areas.

The charity claims that, in some areas of social deprivation in the UK, more than half of children start school without the skills they need to learn, understand their teachers, make friends and achieve their full potential. “We know that getting children's communication right in the early years benefits families and prevents problems later on”, says Virginia Beardshaw, I CAN Chief Executive.

The project will establish 450 ELDP “hubs” of early language expertise which will help practitioners spread a package of training, resources and support to those in children’s centres and allied professionals, such as health visitors and speech and language therapists. The programme aims to reach up to 16,000 practitioners in almost 4,000 Children’s Centres and Early Years settings, and over 960,000 families.

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