Families in southwestern Colorado have access to a new program designed to boost language development in children: LENA Start. The free program helps parents give their children the language development they need to be ready for preschool and kindergarten and is now available in the Montezuma, Dolores and Archuleta counties. Team UP Southwest Colorado, a nonprofit that supports children in the Montezuma and Dolores counties, is co-hosting 10 free, weekly online sessions with the Cortez Public Library to help parents understand how to talk with their infants and toddlers in a way that increases their conversation skills before school.
The push for a program like LENA Start in Southwest Colorado began when a speech pathologist from the San Juan Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, which provides educational programs and services to school districts in the area, noticed that many children in Southwest Colorado didn’t have the standard language or literacy skills for their age group. The team hopes the program will boost kindergarten readiness locally.