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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
Early Learning in Olympia
Promoting Early Literacy in the International Community
Vancouver Clinic Tops 25,000 Books
Reach Out and Read Washington State on Facebook
About Reach Out and Read Washington State
Support Reach Out and Read in Washington
February 2015


"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."

--Desmond Tutu


Complex challenges are everywhere, with political instability across much of the globe; immigration policy gridlock in Washington, D.C.; and legislators in Olympia striving to agree to a budget that funds education and other important governmental functions. All of these have very real ramifications for children and families across Washington State.


Somehow collectively we must address all of these issues, and more. At times I feel overwhelmed and wonder how we can possibly "fix" all that is not working, and create a world of opportunity for all. And then I look in the mirror and know that I am much more privileged than most people in the world. I know that every day people in this community, this state, and the world face much more difficult challenges, and they keep going. This is particularly true for families with young children, who are disproportionately poor, and struggling to make ends meet at the same time as they strive to help their children be healthy and ready for kindergarten. Ordinary people are facing extraordinary odds, advocating for their children, and not giving up. That inspires me.


And so the words of Desmond Tutu help me focus. We each find ourselves in a different place, and over our lives our opportunities for influence will vary. But if we each do what we can where we are--and build relationships with others to multiply that impact--we will change the world. In 2011 I had the chance to hear Desmond Tutu during his farewell U.S. speaking tour, when he addressed Tacoma's "Be the Spark" event. I remain amazed that both he and the Dalai Lama (whom I heard speak in 2008 in Seattle) have such a personable approach and delightful sense of humor! How two people who have faced such extraordinary challenges can be so engaging to people in cultures across the world is remarkable. Yet at the same time they make you feel that YOU matter and can (must!) make a difference. And therein lies their real power.


In the education funding conversation in Olympia, early learning remains both a challenge and an opportunity. There is the very real potential for increased investment in early learning--in child care quality, in preschool expansion, and in Reach Out and Read. But it will require everyone "keeping their eye on the prize" even when the negotiations get tough. The opportunity gap that exists in early childhood persists throughout life, and that is why racial equity, social justice, and civil rights are closely linked to early learning.


The good news is that there are many, many people from all walks of life in this state who have a chance to make a difference. You're one of them--so do what you can in your daily life, and contact your legislators to let them know early learning, including Reach Out and Read, is a priority. It is only in looking back that we see the true impact of our collective actions. This is the year to start the transformation of our state, and our nation, around early learning. Find your "little bit of good" today.


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




Bills and budget items to support early learning have diverse support. Reach Out and Read is proud to be a member of the Early Learning Action Alliance (ELAA), a coalition of organizations representing a diverse array of Washington nonprofits, professional associations, businesses and industries. ELAA has developed a legislative agenda with targeted investments in the first five years of life to help Washington's children reach their full potential. ELAA and the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics are advocating for an increase in Reach Out and Read's funding to $500,000 per year. This is needed to sustain programs due to the ending of several types of federal funding. See Reach Out and Read's legislative one-pager.


Brief testimony before the budget committees is always a challenge and opportunity! Learn more about Reach Out and Read as presented by Dr. Sells to the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means CommitteeRemember, Reach Out and Read is currently serving 100,000 children and their families, so this budget request is only $5 per child per year!

Learn more detail behind the agenda, including investment in Reach Out and Read, in Opportunities in Early Learning for policy makers in 2015. The Early Start bill is a central focus of the session; learn more from Thrive Washington and the Children's Alliance.



Photo courtesy of ICHS and Eastside Pathways

To improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities, Reach Out and Read expands in Bellevue and Shoreline. International Community Health Services (ICHS) is a nonprofit community health center that offers affordable health care services to Seattle and King County's Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, as well as other underserved communities. In the International District and Holly Park, Reach Out and Read has been partnering with ICHS to support families with young children since 2010. Recognizing changing demographics and the need for health care services, ICHS opened new clinics in Bellevue and Shoreline in 2014. We are delighted that implementation of the Reach Out and Read program in these clinics quickly followed.

The Reach Out and Read program at ICHS in Bellevue is highlighted in an Eastside Pathways newsletter. "As advocates for healthier communities, ICHS believes that literacy in any language is a significant indicator of positive health outcomes and related to reducing health disparities. To encourage literacy and family reading time, ICHS implemented the Reach Out and Read program at its clinics beginning in 2010."

Eastside Pathways is a cradle-to-career, collective impact partnership which includes the Bellevue School District, the City of Bellevue, social service nonprofits, community-based organizations, parent groups, businesses, funders, families, and youth. We appreciate Eastside Pathways' interest in Reach Out and Read. Medical providers are key resources for families, particularly those who are low-income, or have a home language other than English, and thus a critical part of a community-based early learning system.


Group Health, Dr Frederick Kassab

Reach Out and Read highlighted in Clark County news story. Dr. Devon Ebbing is a fabulous example of a pediatrician advocate. Since 2007 when she started the program, she has dedicated countless hours and abundant energy to implement and sustain Reach Out and Read at The Vancouver Clinic. With support from colleague Dr. Nicole Castonguay, these two physicians have championed the implementation of programs at five different clinics: Battle Ground, Washougal, and 3 Vancouver locations. This system of clinics is the second largest Reach Out and Read program in the state, distributing over 25,000 books to families over the past two years. Read more in Vancouver Clinic prescription: Reach Out and Read in The Columbian.

Reach Out and Read is a highly scalable and effective program because of the dedication of Reach Out and Read medical champions like Dr. Ebbing and Dr. Castonguay, and the work of their colleagues and the rest of the 1,450 Reach Out and Read medical providers across Washington State who bring the joy of reading to families each day in their practices. Thanks to The Columbian for highlighting their important work!



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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 174 programs in 31 counties, 1,450 medical providers serve an estimated 100,000 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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Address - 155 NE 100th Street - Suite 301, Seattle WA 98125