Skip to main content

September 17, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions about Early Words

More about Early Words

Do you have questions about joining the Early Words/Premiers mots program? We’ve got answers!


How can I apply to participate in Early Words?

To apply to participate in Early Words, fill out an Expression of Interest here by October 1st, 2021.


What is an ideal Early Words site?

We work with clinics that can clearly demonstrate a need in their community and are inspired to take this work on. We need at least one champion within the clinic that will help bring the program to life. Clinics must be providing care to children underage five and most should expect to see the same children over several years. Clinics that connect with medical, nursing or other education programs are also welcome to apply.


How many sites will be selected and where?

In 2021-2022, we anticipate 10-20 new sites with more sites to be added in following years. The number of sites will also depend on the size of the clinics.

We will be growing our current programs in Nunavut and Manitoba as well as expanding to other parts of Canada. If we are not able to partner with you this year, we will keep your Expression of Interest on file so we may work together in future years.


What happens after I submit an Expression of Interest?

We have designed a simple process called a readiness assessment that involves conversations (likely one to three) with our team and a few forms for you to fill in. The goal is for us to better understand your clinic context and ensure Early Words fits with the care you currently offer families. Through this two- to three-month process, we will gather information about your clinic, your providers, and your surrounding community and patient population.


How do you communicate with clinics during the selection process?

We will communicate with the staff member (healthcare provider or administrative staff) you list in your Expression of Interest as the person responsible for ensuring the tasks associated with our readiness assessment are complete.


Can we still be part of the program if not all providers in our clinic want to participate?

Yes. We want as many providers to participate as possible, but it does not have to be your full team.


Does Early Words cost money?

No. Training and resources, including books, are free. We can provide books to your clinic for two years. We receive support from private funders and receive community donations to fund the program.


What happens to our book supply after two years?

Our funding is time-based so we can't currently commit to funding for longer than two years. We will work with you to explore ongoing funding opportunities from funders in your community to support long-term book procurement, if that is of interest. The good news is, after two years a lot of capacity has been built in your clinic and in our experience getting funding for books is a tangible and exciting way for funders to be involved.


What do you expect from healthcare providers who are participating in Early Words?

We require participants to:

  • Complete required training (approximately 1.5 hours)
  • Provide early literacy counselling along with books to families – this early literacy counselling, since it’s spread out across many visits, can be very quick and easily integrated into what you already do
  • Complete program surveys (approximately two or three per year)
  • Share with us how many early literacy interventions you have with families
  • Talk to us about how you will work toward creating literacy-friendly waiting rooms with materials supplied by Early Words or others. While we believe this is an important thing to create, we know it needs to work within your available space

Who picks the books and do they come in different languages?

We've heard from clinics that book selection takes a lot of time, so we offer curated lists that are high quality, represent multiple groups, are affordable and can work well for low-literacy families. 

If your clinic has many families who would value books in languages other than English or French, we can explore the potential of curating different books that can match this need. If we are unable to curate books that match specific language needs, the books we provide are simple enough that families can still use them by looking at the pictures and telling stories with their children.


What if we missed the Expression of Interest deadline of October 1, 2021, or we can’t commit right now?

The Expression of Interest lets us know you are interested, but it is not a final commitment to the program. So please complete the form if you feel there is interest in your clinic.

If you missed the deadline, we are always interested in hearing from clinics with a passion for early literacy. Please email us at to tell us about your clinic or hospital.