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Stepping Stones Netherlands

Project duration: September 2021 – September 2023
Project members: Caroline Rowland (project leader), Paula Fikkert, Marianne Starren

Aims

Stepping Stones is a UK-based ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) course for non-English speaking mothers and their babies. This programme is now being adapted to the Dutch context for non-Dutch speaking mothers: Stepping Stones Netherlands.

For this project, the research group from the Baby and Child Research Centre will both

  1. a) translate the materials into Dutch and
  2. b) adapt them to the Dutch societal context (e.g. by tailoring the material to Dutch daily life, healthcare, society and education systems).

Background

Non-Dutch speaking mothers are a particularly vulnerable group who are less likely to engage with services and support groups aimed at new parents. As a result, parents from this particular demographic are in many cases unable to access vital information about parenting, health, and general child development. These mothers also have many barriers to overcome in order to attend standard Dutch language courses such as lack of childcare, finance, and sometimes cultural expectations. At the same time, they are expected to liaise with the wide range of contexts and settings associated with childrearing. They can also be vulnerable to social exclusion due to linguistic and financial barriers which can lead to a range of negative outcomes for the families. To date there is no formal Dutch language teaching provision available for this particular group and there is an urgent need to address this gap.

The Stepping Stones programme delivers functional language skills in combination with health and parenting information and is designed as a structured 12-week mother and baby ‘stay and play’ group. Each 45-minute session focuses on one particular aspect of family daily life (e.g. health, housing, shopping) and consists of infant-centred activities and informal language instruction.

A summary of the UK programme can be found here.

RUNOMI is honored to provide support for this project by facilitating contact with key players in local government, experts, organizations and target group.

Contact information

More information on this research study? The questions may be directed to runomi@ru.nl. We will consequently put you in touch with the project members. Please note that this programme is a Dutch programme and all communication and inquiries can be thus submitted in Dutch too.