"As physicians, we always focus a lot on their health, but we also have to focus on their well-being, their growth and development. So I get satisfaction knowing that I'm helping a child learn and to become better educated."
--Dr. Saul Valencia, Pasco, Washington
One of my greatest joys is when we can help new clinics start Reach Out and Read, particularly those serving families with few resources. Knowing that we can help level the playing field right now for hundreds of thousands of kids is exciting! It's been at least five years since we began talking with the community and providers in the Tri-Cities about expanding Reach Out and Read; and the struggle for funding remains very real. Yet today, thanks to great local partnerships, new clinics have launched in the Tri-Cities. Read about the joy and knowledge shared between Dr. Valencia and his young patient, Aryanna, in the
The beauty of Reach Out and Read is its easy scalability. Support the medical providers with training, the clinics with technical assistance, find funding to give each young child a book at checkups, and, almost like magic, start a new program! No new infrastructure is needed because the program uses the existing health care system, and leverages the expertise of medical professionals and the trust that families place in them.
So, is Reach Out and Read expanding, or is the program at risk in Washington State? The answer is both! And it's a crazy place to be. Almost weekly, we get requests from clinics to help doctors start programs, and we do our best to support them. Over the past nine years, the program has quadrupled in size, stretching the capacity of Reach Out and Read staff to provide all the supports doctors and clinics across Washington need to effectively serve over 105,000 young children and their families. And we collectively struggle to fund the ongoing need for books--now over 210,000 per year, and climbing!
We're in the midst of what is likely a marathon legislative session, with significant budget challenges. Trying to secure adequate state funding to enable Reach Out and Read to continue to leverage private resources and the contributions of over 1,700 medical providers in this environment is a daunting task. Yet we know that parents are critical to children's early development from birth, subsequent kindergarten readiness, and ultimately their ability to succeed in the K-12 system that the legislature is trying to fund. We are currently working with legislators to advocate for funding in the final budget.
Please let your legislators know that Reach Out and Read is a critical investment in education!
The following media links from
The Tri-City Herald
The Seattle Times
and USA Today tell the story and make the case for the work medical providers are doing across this great state. Read on to see what wonderful providers like Dr. Valencia do to support the families in their care through Reach Out and Read. Thank you for your support to help families in their most important job!