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We’re concerned at the knock-on effect on young children who need verbal interaction to build their own speaking and understanding skills

Charity warns of a generation at risk, as 72% of Brits take on more work to make ends meet

The recession has forced almost three quarters (72%) of British parents to take on extra work to make ends meet, a survey by I CAN, the children’s communication charity, and Openreach, reveals this week.

A third are working longer hours, 18% have found themselves with no option but to take on a second job and one in five are now doing extra work from home. More than half (55%) say they have less quality time with their children as a result of their work.

The survey shows that parents of children 0-5 years old understand the importance of regular, quality conversation with their children. However:

• 35% say they rarely have time to talk these days and blame increased workloads
• 19% are too tired to chat with their children by the time they get home from work
• Around a third state that either answering work calls or responding to emails often interrupts attempts to chat with their children.

Although the modern British parent recognises mealtimes as one of the key occasions to engage in conversation with young children, 40% are regularly missing out on these meals due to work commitments.

Kate Freeman, I CAN Communication Advisor, said, “Parents want the best for their children and are well-informed about how important it is to chat with children in order to nurture their communication skills. They’re aware of the key milestones at the different ages and stages of development – but their best efforts are being hampered by the recession’s impact on their working hours.

“We’re concerned at the knock-on effect on young children who need verbal interaction to build their own speaking and understanding skills, especially in the early years. Without these skills they may start school with a lower level of language than expected at their age. The good news is that making time for chat and rhyme will help get children ‘communication fit’ and ready for school.

“To reassure parents that there are quick and simple ways to help their child’s communication we’ve put together 10 tips on building talking and singing into a busy day and are encouraging families across the country to take part in the 11th annual Chatterbox Challenge, from 1-7th February 2012. The Chatterbox Challenge, developed by speech and language therapists, aims to develop children’s communication skills, through songs and rhymes, in homes, nurseries and childminding groups across the country.”

Olivia Garfield, Chief Executive, Openreach, said, “Despite the pressure parents face it is positive that they understand the need to develop their children’s communication skills. We at Openreach support the Chatterbox Challenge as it brings families and communities together and at the same time develops children’s vital speaking and understanding skills. Communication is at the heart of our business and by talking and practising songs and nursery rhymes with their children, parents are helping build the next generation of confident chatterboxes.”

The Chatterbox Challenge is an annual educational and fundraising event for children aged 0-5, to practise nursery rhymes and songs to develop their communication skills. This year’s theme is ‘Kids in Motion: Get active and make chatter matter’, when children will be getting ‘communication fit’ for Summer 2012 by combining words with actions and performing popular songs including ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ and ‘Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush’.

Thanks to the support of Openreach, donations raised during the Chatterbox Challenge go directly to I CAN’s work with children with speech, language and communication difficulties. In the UK, one child in ten will struggle with a communication difficulty that will persist throughout their lives.

There is still time to register for a free Chatterbox Challenge pack, please go to


For more information, interviews and pictures, please contact Emma Selim (I CAN Press and PR Officer) at or 0207 843 2543.

About the OnePoll Survey:

• 2000 parents of children aged 0-5 were surveyed online between Tuesday 6th December to Wednesday 14th December.
• OnePoll are a well respected organisation who undertake a wide range of market research projects on behalf of companies from various sectors within the UK and around the world

About I CAN:

• I CAN is the children’s communication charity. or
• We are here to ensure that no child is left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
• Nobody wants a child’s potential to be wasted. It happens because communication difficulties are not visible, often mistaken for something else, or not noticed at all.

I CAN’s mission is to make sure that everyone in contact with children knows how important communication is, what a communication difficulty looks like and what they can do to help.

We do this through:

- Increasing public awareness of the problems children face.
- Giving expert advice to parents and families about what to look out for and what to do.
- Providing assessments for children so that their families know what support will meet their needs.
- Giving teachers and people working with children the skills to help children who struggle.
- Campaigning to ensure children and families get a better deal.
- Producing resources, DVDs, posters and other information to help parents and practitioners support children with their communication development.

At the very heart of I CAN are our special schools which give expert care and education to children with problems so severe their needs cannot be met elsewhere.

About Openreach:

• Thanks to the generous support of Openreach, every penny you raise through the Chatterbox Challenge goes towards helping I CAN support children across the UK that are struggling to communicate.
• Openreach maintain and work to improve the network that connects tens of millions of homes and businesses to telephone exchanges across the UK. They do so on behalf of Communication Provider customers, who sell communication-based services to consumers and businesses. They are also leading BT’s drive to make Super-fast Fibre Access available to customers across the UK. This means that up to two-thirds of homes and businesses should be able to enjoy super-fast broadband services by the end of 2014.
• With communication at the heart of its business, Openreach is passionate about I CAN’s work, and recognises how critical good communication skills are to every young child as they embark on life’s journey.
• Learn more about Openreach at

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