NEWS  from
 Reach Out and Read
 Washington State
MARCH 2017
"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 Tri-City Herald.

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!

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

Support Reach Out and Read in Washington 

Photo from Tri-City Herald
Pasco Families Embrace Reach Out and Read

At Reach Out and Read, we prioritize clinics who serve families with the least resources. We are excited to see one of our newest clinics in Eastern Washington featured in the Tri-City Herald story Getting Tri-City kids to read is just what the doctor ordered. Many of the parents of Dr. Valencia's patients are surprised when he offers their child a book. Parents are used to hearing about their child's physical health, but aren't expecting to learn about their child's mental well-being. " Especially in the lower economic status groups ... most of these people don't even have books in their homes." he said.

Photo from Harborview Pediatric Clinic

Pediatricians Highlight Power of Reach Out and Read

A big thank you to pediatric resident Dr. Amanda Jacobsen and Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Michael Dudas for the excellent Seattle Times piece Rx for success: Pediatricians handing out books . "As pediatric health-care providers, one of the most powerful tools we can pull out during exams is not a piece of medical equipment, but a book. Investments in a child's earliest months and years offer the best chance for all children to succeed in life, but not every child has the same access to those investments."

Education Debate Needs a Focus on Home 

According to Jennifer Bryan, " The failure to read aloud to America's children from birth is a public health crisis in the making." She refers to education reform and notes " the debate we're witnessing neglects the critical starting point of a child's education: what happens at home. They miss out on the astounding vocabulary gains that can be made, the millions of neural connections that can be forged, and the foundational social-emotional bonding that occurs when a grown-up reads to a child from day one." Read Today's education debate ignores a child's starting line in USA Today to learn about the reading gap between families with different resources. She also notes what Reach Out and Read doctors share with families every day: " By their very design, books make enhancing brain development easy. When you read to a child, you're bundling together a set of brain-boosting activities: hearing a wide range of vocabulary and complex syntax, bonding and interacting with a parent, hearing stories, having a routine, developing empathy."

About Reach Out and Read Washington State

Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.  Our evidence- based proven program leverages the influence of children's doctors and makes literacy promotion  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 210 programs in 31 counties, 1,700 medical providers serve an estimated  105,000 children and their families across Washington. Reach Out and Read
Washington State is part of Reach Out and Read, Inc., a national not-for  profit 501(c)3  organization.