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A parent-directed language intervention for children of low socioeconomic status: a randomized controlled pilot study*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2015

University of Chicago Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology
University of Chicago Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology
University of Chicago Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology
University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center
Temple University, Department of Psychology
University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration
University of Chicago Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology
School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago
University of Chicago, Department of Psychology
University of Chicago, Department of Psychology
Address for correspondence: Dana L. Suskind, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Ave, MC1035, Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail:


We designed a parent-directed home-visiting intervention targeting socioeconomic status (SES) disparities in children's early language environments. A randomized controlled trial was used to evaluate whether the intervention improved parents' knowledge of child language development and increased the amount and diversity of parent talk. Twenty-three mother–child dyads (12 experimental, 11 control, aged 1;5–3;0) participated in eight weekly hour-long home-visits. In the experimental group, but not the control group, parent knowledge of language development increased significantly one week and four months after the intervention. In lab-based observations, parent word types and tokens and child word types increased significantly one week, but not four months, post-intervention. In home-based observations, adult word tokens, conversational turn counts, and child vocalization counts increased significantly during the intervention, but not post-intervention. The results demonstrate the malleability of child-directed language behaviors and knowledge of child language development among low-SES parents.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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First and foremost, we would like to thank the participating families for so generously allowing us into their homes and for devoting a significant amount of their time to this study. Further, we thank Gabriel Weinberger and Robert Webber for conducting the statistical analyses, and Alison Hundertmark and Alyssa Anneken for designing figures and tables. This study was funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1 RR 024999, KL2 RR 025000) to Dana Suskind and by the Hemera Regnant Foundation.



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