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New York City Launches Early Childhood Development Initiative

New York City Children’s Cabinet has introduced the “Talk To Your Baby, Their Brain Depends On It” initiative urging parents and caregivers to talk, read and sing to their babies from birth.

These efforts will focus on closing the “word gap.” Studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper income families hear 30 million more words than their lower-income peers. This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words. And that puts children born with the fewest advantages even further behind.

The “Talk To Your Baby, Their Brain Depends On It” campaign is aimed at promoting ‘attachment parenting’ and early brain development among children ages zero to three. It includes online resources with information and tips for parents and caregivers, and digital outreach. A “Talk to Your Baby” website includes educational films, information and advice for promoting early language development to parents and caregivers.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene introduced a texting service that allows parents and caregivers who sign up to receive weekly text messages with info and tips for promoting secure attachment and early childhood brain development.

In addition, Scholastic Inc. is providing 200,000 Baby Book Bundles – to be distributed over the next two years to families with children ages zero to three encouraging parents to talk, read and sing to their babies. The bundles include Too Small to Fail’s “Talking is Teaching” resource for families, created in partnership with Sesame Street.

The Baby Book Bundles will be distributed through the nationally recognized Reach Out and Read program and at the Administration for Children’s Services EarlyLearn Centers. The Reach Out and Read program distributes books through registered pediatricians to visiting caregivers of babies under two years old, and serves 85 percent of children born in New York City whose parents received public assistance – comprising approximately 64,000 families. Book bundles will also be distributed to another 12,000 children ages two to three through the Administration for Children’s Services EarlyLearn Centers, which serve some of the city’s neediest children.

Toolkits will be distributed for the next two years, beginning this summer. All books and resources are available in English and Spanish. Learn more at: