Evidence-based practice: The Baby TALK model in action.

Since 1991, Baby TALK has been conducting research as to the impact of programs.  In a study that spanned 8 years, Baby TALK was able to measure a statistical difference in incoming kindergartner’s test scores in Decatur Public Schools if they had been served by Baby TALK during their earliest years.  The results of several other qualitative studies through the years have provided encouragement that Baby TALK seems to positively impact families in a variety of ways.

Beginning in 2010, Baby TALK integrated research projects to study the efficacy and effectiveness of its model components including studies examining the home visiting model, the Baby TALK Newborn Encounter, model fidelity processes, and professional development protocols. We seek to understand the impact of the Baby TALK model on cognitive, language, and social development among infants and young children, parent competence, parental stress levels, community engagement, the parent-child relationships, and our Baby TALK professionals. We also hope to inform other providers and stake holders of best practices in home visiting and community engagement in support of high-risk, vulnerable families with young children starting at birth.

A new level of rigor in Baby TALK’s research efforts has led to a pair of Randomized Control Trials being conducted at this time, with scheduled completion in November, 2015.  The RCTS are measuring the impact of Baby TALK Home Visiting programs as well as the impact of Baby TALK Newborn Encounter Universal Screening.

What is Baby TALK currently studying?

Baby TALK Home Visiting Randomized Control Trial

American Institutes for Research (AIR) is conducting the Baby TALK Home Visiting Randomized Control Trial.  This study will provide evidence to establish the impact of selected Baby TALK Home Visiting programs across the state of Illinois funded by the Illinois State Board of Education Prevention Initiative program. Infants and parents whose risk factors qualified them for Prevention Initiative were recruited into either the treatment group or the control group for this study. Treatment group families receive twice-monthly home visits and monthly group encounters.  Control group families will be brought into home visiting at the conclusion of the study. Families recruited into the study included half Spanish-speaking and half English-speaking families.

AIR is collecting collect data related to child development progress, parenting stress parent-child interaction, and family connection to community resources at recruitment and again after a nine month period.  At the close of this project (November, 2015), they will analyze and report this data, indicating the impact of Baby TALK home visiting on the treatment group as compared to the control group. Link to full description

Principal Investigators:  Dr. Eboni Howard and Dr. Patricia Garcia-Arena

Baby TALK Newborn Encounter Randomized Control Trial

The Baby TALK Newborn Encounter Randomized Control Trial is a study designed to examine rigorously the differences in outcomes across parental competence, parental stress, and community connectedness based on whether the Newborn Encounter  was administered to new mothers or not. The study was launched in May 2015 with four data collection periods including recruitment with new mothers in local Decatur hospitals. The aim of this study is to provide preliminary rigorous evidence of the positive parental outcomes associated with Baby TALK’s Newborn Encounter protocol and this is done through randomly assigning new mothers to receive the Newborn Encounter, a cornerstone of the Baby TALK model. This efficacy study involving 150 mothers and their newborns will set the foundation for larger scale randomized control trials examining outcomes associated with the Newborn Encounter Protocol in the future. Impacts to be reported will be in the areas of parenting stress, parental sense of competence, and family connection to community resources.  Findings from the study will be shared in January 2016 at the completion of the study.  Link to full description

Principal Investigators:  Dr. Aimee Hilado and Dr. Christine Leow

In process now: Researchers from the University of Central Florida are studying Baby TALK prenatal families for identification of issues informing efforts to support pregnant families with a new curriculum and program models. Click here for further description.

What's new?


The Baby TALK model: An innovative approach to identifying high-risk children and families (Research Report, 2012)
This research report examines the Baby TALK model, an innovative early childhood intervention approach used to identify, recruit, and serve young children who are at-risk for developmental delays, mental health needs, and/or school failure, and their families.

A Report on Risk Characteristics Among Young Children and Families in the Baby TALK Demonstration Program: 2008-2010, with Select Comparative Local, State, and National Data from 2003-2010. (Research Brief, 2011)
In this research brief, we examine the risk characteristics of children and families in the Baby TALK demonstration program and compare those characteristics with demographic data at the county, state, and federal level.

Coming in 2016: Reports on the 2 Randomized Control Trials currently underway

In the Field

Hilado, A., Quigg, C., & Widenhofer, D. (2014). "The impact of home visiting with English and Spanish-speaking families." Field presentation presented at the 29th Zero to Three National Training Institute Conference. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. (Dec. 10-13)

Quigg, C., Allweiss, S., & Hilado, A. (2014). "Access for New Immigrant Children: Early Intervention with Refugee Families using the Baby TALK© model." Field presentation presented at the Birth to Three Early Childhood Conference. Washington, D.C. (Jul. 30-31)

Hilado, A. (2012) "Newborn Encounters: A strengths-based approach to identifying newborns and new parents in need of early intervention services." Poster Presentation at the 27th Zero to Three National Training Institute. Los Angeles, CA (December)


Becoming Ever Better: Supporting Mastery and Confirming Quality: The Baby TALK Quality Confirmation Process
Over the last 3 years, Baby TALK Professionals have been helping to craft a new set of standards and a process whereby Baby TALK programs may demonstrate their quality. Read more about this process.

The Baby TALK Model Fidelity and Self-Assessment Project
This project provides efforts and activities to inform and advance achievement of a unified, statewide system of high quality Home Visiting to ensure sustained gains from the use of the grant to Illinois.