Chit Chat

(Formerly called Speech and Language Therapy Model)

Chit Chat is an early intervention speech and language model which utilises a three pronged approach involving:

• Assessment and therapy with children;
• Support and training with parents;
• Support and training with staff.

Chit Chat involves on site delivery, whereby therapists attend Early Year’s services (EY services) and primary schools, carrying out assessments and therapy to children referred to the service.  The service is designed to give parents a key role in their child’s language development.  As well as parents receiving one to one support from the therapist, information sessions are held for parents including those whose children are not receiving direct therapy. At the start of each academic year, coffee mornings are held with parents to introduce the service and therapist.  In this way, parents are aided in their ability to identify their children’s speech and language needs, to refer children to the service if this seems appropriate and to support their child’s development.

As well as providing assessment and therapy to children and support to parents, the third element to the three-pronged approach involves providing training and support to staff – both in the early years’ (EY) and school settings. Staff in the EY’s services receive both certified and accredited training, such as Hanen and Elklan, as well as informal training.  This enables them to apply key strategies to provide a rich and stimulating language learning environment for young children; encourage language development; build early literacy skills; and provide a physical and social environment that encourages peer interaction.  Similar accredited training is also offered to primary school teachers. Other forms of informal training are delivered to EY staff and teachers by the SLTs as necessary.

Interagency collaboration is a central aspect of Chit Chat.  At the very outset, discussions with the local Health Services Executive’s (HSE) Principal Speech and Language Therapist (PSLT) were held to inform the design and establish the model of service delivery. The PSLT also provides clinical supervision to the senior CDI SLT.  The CDI SLTs were employed by community organisations initially and from September 2014 CDI employs the two therapists directly.

A senior Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) and a staff grade therapist are employed to deliver Chit Chat in nine early years’ services and five primary schools.  In addition CDI’s Quality Specialist provides support in the design, delivery and managing implementation issues of the service.  Both SLTs work closely with the HSE speech and language therapy team which is important for both professional development and support, and enabling strong links across the services.  In addition, the CDI SLTs submit quarterly reports to CDI which monitor assessment/ therapy and training.

Click here to download Chit Chat Implementation Guide

To view the most recent independent evaluation click here or to view the most recent policy paper click here.

Speech and Language Therapy Model 2008-2013

The Speech and Language Therapy Evaluation Report found that a dedicated speech and language service would enable more children to receive the intervention earlier which would help to remove or reduce a significant disadvantage from them before starting school.

The Service was piloted from 2008-2011 and provided therapeutic support to 192 children who were otherwise unlikely to have been identified, referred, or supported through any other existing service in Tallaght West. 18% of children brought into the service were discharged following a period of support, meaning their skills had improved sufficiently to reach normal limits.

Evaluation Report and Policy Brief

For more information please contact Grainne Smith on