Light Up Learning video shows SCI's impact


  • August 17, 2018
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   early-learning,education
baby reading a book

We've had a couple of important milestones this summer at Studer Community Institute.

Since we launched both the Brain Bag and Parent Outreach projects, we've started the groundwork for our effort to build and Early Learning City and improve the lives of children in our community.

In the first year, nearly 6,000 parents received a bag. The bags are given out by Baptist, Sacred Heart and West Florida hospitals to new mothers before they leave the hospital. Nurses spend 10-20 minutes per patient (averaged across three hospitals) teaching the bag. The Brain Bag survey asks moms on a scale of 1-10, rate your knowledge of how parent talk influences early brain development before the Brain Bag, and then rate it after. Here is how the responses breakdown by hospital as of June 30, 2018.

West Florida: 6.5 to 9.4

Baptist: 6.5 to 8.9

Sacred Heart: 6.7 to 9.75

We've also worked with wonderful community partners who do home visits to coach and support parents who may need more reinforcement of the idea that early talk and interaction is key in healthy brain development. These partners include: Early Steps (which connects parents of children under 3 with an identified developmental delay to services); Healthy Start Coalition (which uses Escambia County Health Department nurses to do home-visits with pregnant women and new mothers who are at risk of adverse birth outcomes or adverse outcomes for the child in the first year of life); Children’s Home Society (which offers counseling to pregnant and new teen mothers who are still in school); Families First Network foster parent trainers and with Early Childhood Court (a specialty court for parents with children under 3).

This partnership with Families First and Early Childhood Court is one of our most exciting outgrowths of the project. Initial feedback from staff who have used the tools in the Brain Bag with clients has been promising, and something we would like to continue. Janet Thompson, a registered nurse with the Florida Department of Health who is part of the Early Childhood Court team said, “I also have a welcome response with the Early Childhood Court clients. I had an opportunity to engage a couple of fathers with the Brain Bag that were responsive.  One mom used the book to read to her children at visitation.”


Our Parent Outreach Program has seen success, too. Since the project began, 70 parents and grandparents have attended at least one session. Average weekly attendance is 8 to 10 at Moreno Court, 6 to 8 at Attucks Court, 4-8 at Oakwood Terrace. Since then:

— 18 parents earned certificate of completion awards (for attending at least 18 weeks in parent outreach). 

— 10 parents found gainful employment since joining parent outreach program.

— 4 parents have enrolled at Pensacola State College.

— 2 have enrolled in GED classes.