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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
Reach Out and Read Featured in ParentMap
Serving Families of Children Birth Through Three
United Way of Clallam County Supports Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read Washington State is on Facebook
About Reach Out and Read Washington State
Support Reach Out and Read in Washington
Your Amazon shopping  benefits 
Reach Out and Read programs!  
March 2013

"The active ingredient in the environment that's having an influence on development is the quality of the relationships that children have with the important people in their lives. That's what it's all about."

-Jack P. Shonkoff, MD


My fellow pediatrician Dr. Jack Shonkoff has made many visits to Washington State in recent years, all related to early childhood. Much of this started after he was the lead author on a scientific report from the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 called  From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. He is now the Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Today's quote brings us back to a key point that seems too often forgotten when we talk about investments in early childhood--the vital importance of loving relationships in a child's daily environment, and the most obvious thing of all--the importance of parents.


Reach Out and Read is primarily about supporting parents, because we know that what happens (or doesn't happen) at home is one of the best predictors of education, health, and life outcomes for children. Pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are the medical providers who care for young children and families. As trusted partners and coaches, they help parents and children through the exciting and overwhelming things that make up these formative years. And it is this relationship, and these visits, that form the basis for the Reach Out and Read program. Between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, there are 10 recommended well-child checkups, and often many sick visits in between. Each encounter provides an opportunity to strengthen doctor-parent-child relationships and reinforce the central role that parents play in their child's early learning.


This legislative session remains focused mostly on education, and the budget challenges are significant. It will be very difficult to fund what is required by the McCleary decision. At the same time, the point of the constitutional mandate is to provide the education that children need, and investing in K-12 alone will not achieve desired outcomes. Failing to assure that children's basic needs are met (since of course, children who are hungry or ill cannot learn), or choosing not to invest in early learning (despite its significant positive return on investment from both an economic and educational point of view) are short-sighted decisions that will not help us reach our goals for Washington's students. Legislators must make evidence-based, strategic decisions that are both feasible and effective, and help achieve both short and long-term goals. 


Reach Out and Read is part of the solution to our education system's needs, and the time is now to sustain and strengthen this program that is already serving 86,000 children and families across the state. No other organization is more efficient or innovative in delivering an evidence-based program that helps children across Washington be ready for kindergarten than Reach Out and Read. Please encourage your legislator to support the work of more than 1,000 medical providers across the state through Reach Out and Read!


Thank you for your support.


Jill Sells, MD and the Reach Out and Read Washington Team



Jill Sells-ParentMap
Parenting magazine highlights how doctors engage parents and improve early literacy across Washington State. We appreciate the March Someone You Should Know feature, which tells the story of Reach Out and Read's services across Washington via an interview with Executive Director, Dr. Jill Sells.


Group Health, Dr Frederick Kassab

Doctors have the best opportunity to support our youngest learners. In the "cradle to career" continuum of children's learning and educational experiences, there is increasing attention to supporting learning from birth through age 3. This is important because early brain research demonstrates just how much learning happens in those first weeks and months of life. Starting our early learning investments in "preschool" at age 3- or 4-years is far too late, and doctors are helping change this perspective. When children are young, they visit the doctor frequently, along with one or both parents. The national guidelines for preventive care (Bright Futures) recommend 7 visits by the time a child is 9 months of age! This is especially significant because research shows that disparities in children's skills are measurable as early as 9 months of age (Child Trends, 2009). So support and interventions in this time period have the potential to stop the opportunity gap before it begins.


Reach Out and Read takes advantage of ready opportunities to support parents as their child's first teacher, bringing a proven parent engagement and early literacy program to well-child checkups. Our doctors help parents understand how to promote language and literacy at home, while giving them a new book to take home and read with their child. Starting at 6 months of age, when the first Reach Out and Read children's book is given to families, there are a total of 10 recommended visits through the 5th birthday, and 80% of these happen through age 3. Even more important than the frequency of interactions, is the fact that families trust their children's doctors and seek their guidance. In the Washington State Department of Early Learning's Parent Voices survey, 71% of parents said they trusted their child's health care provider the most as a source of early learning information, by far the most prevalent answer.


While there are other important programs in the first years of life in Washington State, including home visiting programs and the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) early intervention program for children with disabilities, Reach Out and Read is unique in both its current scope and its potential to reach all children and families. Reach Out and Read offers a rapidly-scalable, economically feasible opportunity to provide parents with the information and skills they want from a source they trust. And, most importantly, this will improve child outcomes that are vital for success in kindergarten and beyond. 


At the same time, Reach Out and Read doctors are well-positioned to help refer those most at-risk into home visiting and ESIT programs, along with childcare and preschool opportunities. Building a coordinated early learning system starts with meeting families where they are, and where they are receptive. There is no better place to start than in their child's doctor's office, soon after birth. Reach Out and Read provided 157,142 one-on-one well-child checkups to Washington families in Fiscal Year 2012, an estimated 125,714 of which were with children 3 years and under. So when we strategize about how to serve our youngest children and families, we must remember that Reach Out and Read is by far Washington's biggest early learning program, and that our services are mostly "birth through three!"


UW Clallam Logo


Great Beginnings Initiative allocates 2nd year of grants. Based on the 2009 Listening to Community VOICES Needs Assessment, the United Way Clallam County Board of Directors selected early learning investments as a priority for Community Solutions funding. They created a new initiative called "Great Beginnings: Helping children be successful in school and in life." Reach Out and Read is pleased to continue our second year of partnership with United Way of Clallam County to support doctors in the county. We thank Jody Moss, Executive Director, the Board of Directors, and all of the staff and volunteers at United Way of Clallam County for our 2013 grant, and for their creative approach to supporting young children and families. Read about the newest round of Great Beginnings grants in the Peninsula Daily News.




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Reach Out and Read Washington State is on Facebook.  Please LIKE us.  If you could also suggest our Facebook page to your friends, that would go a long way in helping us spread our message about early literacy. Thanks! 




Reach Out and Read helps prepare children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Our evidence-based proven program leverages the influence of children's doctors and makes literacy a standard part of well-child checkups from ages 6 months through 5 years. Reach Out and Read supports parents as their child's first teacher and helps children be ready for kindergarten. 


Through 148 programs in 30 counties, 1,000 medical providers serve an estimated 86,000 children and their families across Washington. Reach Out and Read Washington State is a Regional Office of Reach Out and Read, Inc., a national not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.



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Telephone - 206-524-3579
Fax - 206-524-4768  

Address - 155 NE 100th Street - Suite 301, Seattle WA 98125