Reach Out and Read gives young children
a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and
encouraging families to read aloud together. We leverage two extraordinary forces to improve early literacy and educational outcomes: the power of parents and the influence of pediatricians. The Reach Out and Read model provides parents with personalized, age-appropriate advice about books and reading at every well-child visit from newborn through 5 years, along with a new developmentally and culturally appropriate book. Books are used by the medical provider at the beginning of the visit during developmental surveillance, and as a vehicle to offer concrete guidance to parents. Armed with this guidance, parents make reading aloud a part of their daily routines.
The concept is incredibly simple. Take a child from a low-income family where books can be rare and parents often too stressed or lacking the knowledge to spend time on reading. When the pediatrician sees that child, she “prescribes” an appropriate book and guides the parents on reading with the child daily. The results are amazing.
Because the book has been prescribed almost as if it were a medication, parents are far more likely to make reading aloud a part of their daily routine. As a result, young children in at-risk homes can build their literacy and oral language skills and become better prepared for school – as they learn the joy of reading.
Reach Out and Read is far more than a book give-away program. It is a national leader in school readiness and unique among all other early literacy interventions. As the only early literacy nonprofit that works through pediatricians, we have near-universal, repeated, one-on-one access to all young children and their parents. By using the existing healthcare structure, with doctors volunteering their time, our costs remain low, yet our results are incredible.
Among the many anticipatory guidance items medical providers have on their checklist, Reach Out and Read has the best evidence base; 15 research studies, published in medical journals, show the efficacy of our work. Reach Out and Read is the only anticipatory guidance activity proven to promote child development. When you participate in Reach Out and Read, you address a critical need with a successful model. Children served by Reach Out and Read are read to more often, have better expressive and receptive language skills and are better prepared for success in school.
The program rapidly expanded across the country, and by 2001, there were programs in every state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Today, nearly 5,800 clinical locations nationwide implement our model, distributing 6.5 million books to 4.6 million children each year. Nationally, over 28,000 medical providers deliver our program.
In Connecticut, the program began in New Haven in 1995 with Dr. Laurel Shader at Fair Haven Community Health Center, and has since expanded to serve nearly 40,000 children at 74 clinical locations. The Connecticut Regional Office consistis of a Director of Development, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Christine Garber, a State Medical Director, Dr. Cathy Wiley of Connecticut Children's Medical Center, who started the original coalition for the state, a Programs Director, two part-time Program Coordinators, a part-time communications/program evaluations person and over 300 volunteer providers who deliver our program daily. Dr. Shader continues to serve as our Medical Champion at Fair Haven Community Health Center and as a state wide advocate for our program.
Operating within existing healthcare infrastructure, Reach Out and Read achieves low overhead costs while leveraging the powerful relationship between parents and pediatricians. Pediatric providers have unique access to young children, with 90% of children under 5 years of age visiting their healthcare provider at least annually. As trusted advisors, pediatricians influence parental behavior so that parents start reading to their children at a very early age. Reach Out and Read engages children early, before learning deficits are accrued.
Since its inception, the Reach Out and Read model has been the focus of a growing number of statistically significant research studies, each demonstrating the efficacy of the Reach Out and Read model. Fifteen independent studies prove that Reach Out and Read works: Reach Out and Read parents more likely to read aloud to their children; Reach Out and Read children show significant developmental gains in language, vocabulary and in school readiness assessments.
28-year history, Reach Out and Read has stayed true to our model and mission,
because our evidence base of published studies shows that we are making a
difference for families. At the same time, we regularly refine our program as
needed to increase our impact.
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a policy statement which formally recommends that pediatricians incorporate into every well-child visit through kindergarten both books and advice about reading, referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention. In line with the statement, we are building on our message at infant checkups, encouraging parents to read, talk, and sing with their babies. While babies under six months old will not typically receive a book, their parents will hear age-appropriate guidance to help them promote healthy development.
We have also developed materials and protocols to better serve specific at-risk populations. In partnership with CVS’s foundation arm, we created our Developmental Disabilities Literacy Promotion Guide for Medical Providers, which includes tips for reading with children who face specific developmental challenges, from cerebral palsy to hearing loss to autism spectrum disorder. More recently, we have developed an exciting new program for babies who begin life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). These infants are particularly at risk for developmental delays and can greatly benefit from hearing the voice of a parent or caregiver reading aloud. At Boston Medical Center and a handful of other NICUs across the country, doctors and nurses are giving parents the tools bond with their infant during a difficult time and promote his development at the same time. While this program is still in a pilot phase, we hope to expand to additional NICUs in the coming years.
Reach Out and Read has always been a highly collaborative organization, partnering with a wide range of medical clinics and thousands of dedicated medical providers across the country. We know that today, collaboration is more critical than ever, and so our focus on working with other likeminded organizations and individuals has increased. For example, last year, we received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) which allowed us to work in four pilot states to build stronger connections between Reach Out and Read programs and local libraries and museums.
Medical providers are at the heart of our program, and we are committed to offering high-quality training and resources to support their delivery of the Reach Out and Read model. Last year, we received a grant from a California-based partner, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, which gives us the resources to develop new written content for our core provider training course. We have also received state funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to create new video vignettes to include with the training. The new training will include the latest research on early literacy development and an increased focus on promoting early literacy for infants under six months old.
We continue to work with several state governments which fund our program while also investigating potential funding sources from additional states. At the federal level, we were excited for the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), as it authorizes our pediatric early literacy model in federal education policy for the first time. While ESSA does not guarantee a dollar amount for our program, it opens the door for significant future funding.
“Speaking as a pediatrician, I cannot convey how important
the Reach Out and Read intervention is to our work and to the families we
serve. It enables us to efficiently deliver critical literacy information
and resources to families who may not otherwise receive it in the context of a
well child visit. Learning that reading and literacy is as important to
their child’s development as vaccinations, nutrition and exercise is a very
powerful realization. Many of the parents we see struggle with reading
themselves, are working multiple jobs and don’t have much free time, fail to
have the resources to purchase books or simply do not know how important
reading and interacting with their young children is. By letting them
know how important daily shared reading is to their child’s cognitive
development, we are able to give them something priceless to give to their
children, the gift of literacy and knowledge. Reach Out and Read is a
simple, yet impactful program that should be offered to all children.”
--Thomas G. DeWitt, M.D., F.A.A.P.
2. Site observations are conducted annually/bi-annually at program site visits by Reach Out and Read program staff. A Site Observation Scale, completed in-person at the site visit, evaluates the quality of the program.
3. Each year, providers complete our Medical Provider Survey which reports on program operations and pediatrician's adherence to our model.
Analyzing training activity and these three measures gives us the capacity to evaluate program quality, create performance goals, and recommend improvements.
On the local level, Reach Out and Read Connecticut has built successful collaborations with like-minded organizations. Some of these include Read to Grow, Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, United Way of Greater Waterbury, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, United Way of Western Connecticut, Connecticut Library Consortium, Connecticut Library Association, Bristol Early Childhood Alliance, Norwalk Early Childhood Alliance, Norwalk ACTS, Stamford School Readiness Council, Connecticut Birth to Three, and the Greater New Haven Literacy Coalition.
Nationally, we enjoy collaborations with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Annie E. Casey's National Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Land's End, Ralph Lauren, Uncommon Goods and Scholastic, Inc.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
The form 990 and audits are those of Reach Out and Read. They are not specific to Reach Out and Read Connecticut.
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