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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
Equity Leaders Action Network
Community Foundation of Southwest Washington Supports Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read Washington State on Facebook
About Reach Out and Read Washington State
Support Reach Out and Read in Washington
January 2016
--Tim Wise
In 1989 in Boston, pediatricians and child development specialists saw inequities in their medical clinic. Recognizing that many families did not have children's books at home, and that many parents had not been read to as a child, they devised a simple, pragmatic way to make a difference. And Reach Out and Read was born.
In 2007, Dr. Mary Ann Woodruff and I recognized that there were 52 Reach Out and Read programs in Washington, but no staff "on the ground" to help assure they were high quality or sustainable, and no one to encourage growth of the program. So, while we believed the programs were making an impact on equity, we suspected the impact could be far greater by increasing access and supporting quality. We wanted to assure that the program was implemented with fidelity to the proven model. And we wanted to help doctors and medical practices have access to books that were culturally and linguistically appropriate for the families they served. We also saw that there were very few programs in Eastern Washington, and not many in tribal and rural communities. We believed that we could improve equity if we focused attention where there was need and tried to make participation easier. We have always used an equity lens to drive our work at Reach Out and Read Washington State.
Now 8 years later we are proud of our successes. The program has grown from 52 to 192 clinics; from 16 to 31 counties, from 300 to 1,500 medical providers! Compared to overall state demographics, families served by Reach Out and Read are more likely to be low-income,  children of color, and/or have a primary home language other than English. There are now 70 community health centers participating, many of which serve Spanish-speaking families, and immigrant, migrant, and refugee populations; and there are now 17 tribal programs. Medical providers across the state now receive consistent support from professional staff, and as a result the fidelity of programs to the proven model is higher than ever before. Reach Out and Read is now serving 100,000 young children and their families in Washington, about 20% of the Birth-5 population. This is a practical, proven, action-oriented approach to addressing equity at large scale.
But we are not content with where we are. In these past 8 years hundreds of thousands of children who could have benefited from Reach Out and Read did not, and kindergarten readiness rates remain way too low. To truly achieve equity prior to Kindergarten for children across Washington State, Reach Out and Read has to be much more widespread. It also needs to be part of an effective early childhood system where doctors help assure that families get the services they need to support the whole child and family. So that is why we recommit ourselves, with a sense of urgency, to a systems approach with an equity lens, and why I am so excited to be part of the Equity Leaders Action Network. We believe in action for equity. Will you join us?
Jill Sells, MD and the Reach Out and Read Washington Team


National fellowship aims to reduce disparities in early childhood systems. Four Washingtonians have joined the Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN) to advance equity in early childhood systems. ELAN is a focused effort across 20 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, composed of thirty-eight fellows who work at the state or county level in the areas of health, early learning and family support. Over the next three years, ELAN fellows will work together to identify, address and take action on inequities based on race, ethnicity, language and culture in our early childhood systems. Washington's ELAN fellows include Evette Jasper, Dr. Jill Sells, Heather Kawamoto and Bianca Bailey. Their participation will build on existing statewide commitments to advance racial equity.
"Racial equity is deeply embedded into the Department of Early Learning's strategic goals," said the Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL) Director, Ross Hunter. "We are collaboratively working toward a future where all children have equitable opportunities for quality education and ELAN means progress for this work."


Southwest Washington Foundation supports programs in Clark, Cowlitz, and Skamania Counties. 
We are grateful to the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington  for generous support through a 2nd year $39,000 grant for Reach Out and Read. There are 11 Reach Out and Read programs serving an estimated 11,350 children and their families in these three counties, which have large numbers of children living in poverty. Geographic diversity is an important part of our equity strategy. This grant helps assure doctors can implement high quality programs that meet the needs of the families they serve. Thank you to the Community Foundation for your visionary support for parents and young children in Southwest Washington!



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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 birth through 5 years. Reach Out and Read supports parents as their child's first teacher and helps children be ready for kindergarten. 


Through 192 programs in 31 counties, 1,500 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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