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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
Legislators Release First Budget Drafts
National and Local Media Highlight Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read Speaks to Federal Policy and Programs
The Seattle Foundation 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
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Reach Out and Read programs!  
April 2013

"If properly implemented, President Obama's early childhood plan will move America forward. We can better guarantee success if implementation is guided by a few simple but very important touchstones: focus on disadvantaged families, start at birth, include health and invest in quality from birth to age five."

-James Heckman, Nobel Laureate, Economics


I love this quote because it is a reminder of what is obvious to me as a pediatrician, but often forgotten in early learning discussions. We have to start at birth, focus on disadvantaged families, invest in quality, and include health! Whenever I read a quote from James Heckman, it reminds me of the special opportunity I had to meet him while we were both speaking at the Telluride Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investment in September of 2008. His role was a keynote, and mine, of course, quite small in comparison. I was there to help make the case to CEOs that children's doctors are intimately connected to early childhood. I wrote a guest column for the Seattle Times soon after that event, Invest in Children for Nation's Economic Health, and it was interesting to re-read it today. Literally while we were in Telluride, with leaders from the Federal Reserve in attendance, the initial meltdown of our national economy began.


When I wrote those words, I did not know that it would take more than five years before the economy would begin to turn around, but the essence of the piece still rings true. "As we rebuild our economy we must develop the educated citizenry and workforce we need. Currently, less than half of Washington children arrive at kindergarten ready for success in school, and research demonstrates that kids who start behind rarely catch up. We have set up too many schools and children for potential failure before students even reach the kindergarten door."


Please read on for an update on the state budget, and for stories in the media including a recent Heckman speech and a Reach Out and Read policy briefing in Washington, DC. The concepts are related, and collectively they all speak to the relevance of Reach Out and Read as a statewide strategy for Washington's education system. We must secure state funding for Reach Out and Read right now, as the path forward to an improved educational system is laid out.


The principles developed through the Telluride Summit in 2008 are truer than ever: "Long-term U.S. economic strength and fiscal sustainability depends on our future workforce. Investing in children is a vital economic growth strategy and a priority of business, government and philanthropy. Private and public resources are limited and should be allocated based on evidence of effectiveness."  


Reach Out and Read's evidence base and return on investment are unsurpassed.  Now we need to make the investment. Thank you for your support.


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




WA State Seal
Senate and House far apart in strategy, negotiations to begin in earnest.
Last week the Senate Majority Caucus conducted a press conference as it released its budget
, notable for no increases in taxes, an increase in spending for education, and therefore substantive cuts in other areas. The hearing is worth watching, as it gives a flavor for the attempt at a bipartisan process, and the clear divisions that remain. This week, House Democrats released their initial budget, also announced via press conference. This budget generates new revenue through closing of tax loopholes, continues programs the Senate had cut, and includes increased funding in early learning for child care, preschool, and home visiting.


Reach Out and Read's position in the initial budgets provides "flat" funding from last year, but sustainability requires an increase in state funds. During the recession, we have leveraged substantive private and federal funding, all intended to leverage state funding. The Senate budget provides no state funds, but includes $300K in federal funds. The House budget includes $300K in state funds. This amount is equal to only $1.74 for each child in the program!  The program only costs $17 per child because each $1 invested in Reach Out and Read leverages $8 in services provided by doctors and medical practices, an immediate 8:1 return on investment. However, to continue the program, we need the state to support a larger share. We only seek $6 per child this year!


See Reach Out and Read's legislative one pager for more detail.

Listen to Dr. Sells' testimony for Reach Out and Read before the House Appropriations Committee on 4/10 (49 minutes in).


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 share our legislative one-pager with your legislators, asking them to urge budget leaders to support families and the work of more than 1,000 medical providers across the state through Reach Out and Read!  




Dipesh Navsaria-baby

Reach Out and Read story makes a splash in the press. Reach Out and Read Wisconsin Medical Director Dr. Dipesh Navsaria says,"I'd rather walk into the exam room without a stethoscope, than without a book." That summarizes the power of Reach Out and Read, for both doctors and families. Medical providers often learn more from the use of the book during the exam than they do from more traditional "doctor tools," and we know that families benefit immediately as they walk out the door. Dr. Navsaria is among those quoted in syndicated columnist and NBC Latino Contributor Esther Cepeda's story, "Prescriptions: Read with your kids" in the Yakima Herald on March 21st and in NBCLatino, "Opinion: Prescribing love of reading to young families should be mandatory."


New York Times story highlights persistence of achievement gaps, and need to "redirect" investments to early childhood. Eduardo Porter of the New York Times wrote "Investments in Education May Be Misdirected," drawing from a presentation James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, made in February. He notes (about data Professor Heckman presented), "More surprising is that the difference in cognitive performance was just as big at age 18 as it had been at age 3." Heckman is then quoted as saying, "The gap is there before kids walk into kindergarten. School neither increases nor reduces it." Read more of the story and check out Professor Heckman's new blog



Dr. Perri-DC Panel

"Books Build Better Brains" Panel Discusses Critical Literacy Intervention in a Child's First 1,000 Days. On April 8th, Reach Out and Read convened a policy briefing in the Senate hearing room in Washington, DC, to discuss critical literacy interventions for children from birth. "We know that the first 1,000 days are the most important in a child's brain development and growth," said panelist Perri Klass, MD, Reach Out and Read National Medical Director and a Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University. "During these formative years, children acquire the foundational language, speech, and communication skills that will set a strong stage for the rest of their lives. As pediatricians participating in Reach Out and Read, we help parents learn how to develop these skills in their children through reading aloud. Engaged parents are critical to ensuring that children grow up with rich language exposure, familiarity with books and stories, and highly developed brain functions." Read more 



Reach Out and Read leaders were pleased to meet with Dr. David Willis, Division Director of Home Visiting and Early Childhood Systems at the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). Dr. Willis noted that "The Hill briefing in Washington, DC, brought five early childhood leaders who clearly articulated the power of Reach Out and Read to change lives, not only for vulnerable families and their developing children, and for those in early childhood communities who seek to build powerful literacy initiatives, but most strikingly, for the child health providers who discover an evidence-based intervention and intentionality for building healthy brains for lifelong health and educational achievement. Reach Out and Read is a small investment, with large dividends." The Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant from MCHB to the Washington State Department of Health has helped inform, create, and support the Washington State Early Learning Plan. Early Literacy including Reach Out and Read is a 2013 Priority Early Learning Plan Strategy.




Seattle Foundation w-tag


Many thanks to the Seattle Foundation for a $10,000 general operating grant awarded in the recent education cycle. Caroline Maillard of the Seattle Foundation said, "Reach Out and Read's physician-driven approach to promoting literacy among young children and families is innovative and cost-effective. By expanding to serve tens of thousands of families across King County and Washington State, we believe that Reach Out and Read has become an integral part of our early-learning system."




Find us on Facebook


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 150 programs in 31 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.



Email -

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

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