Reach Out and Read Washington State Programs
The heart of Reach Out and Read is the one-on-one interactions between the doctor, child and family. Reach Out and Read helps doctors incorporate encouragement and guidance around language and literacy into well-child checkups from ages 6 months through 5 years. We currently serve over 86,000 children and families in 146 programs in 30 counties through 1,000 volunteer medical providers. Reach Out and Read supports culturally diverse populations and vulnerable families, including programs in 56 community health centers, 16 tribal communities, and 6 military facilities.
We help parents support early language and literacy skills at home, so that children are ready for kindergarten. This puts them on track toward reading proficiency in third grade, a strong predictor of high school graduation. We do this by providing professional development and technical assistance to doctors and medical practices to enable them to deliver high quality programs, and we continually seek to expand the program to serve more families.
Reach Out and Read Washington State is part of a national 501(c)(3) serving more than 3.9 million children. Our evidence-based national program has a 23-year history backed by 15 published studies showing efficacy. When families participate parents read aloud more often at home, children show improved language skills, and they are more likely to arrive at kindergarten with the early literacy skills they need.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
As the largest early learning program in the state, Reach Out and Read is an integral part of Washington’s education system. Our new report, The Power of Parents and the Influence of Children’s Doctors: Reach Out and Read in the First Five Years, summarizes our accomplishments to date, and our future potential. Early Literacy, including Reach Out and Read, is a priority Washington State Early Learning Plan strategy for the Department of Early Learning, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Thrive by Five Washington. In King County, Reach Out and Read is a key strategy in the Road Map Region’s Birth-3rd grade action plan.
We have been severely challenged during the state budget process, and we continue to work hard to regain and sustain state funding for Reach Out and Read. We have demonstrated the ability to rapidly expand services (from 52 to 146 programs in 5 years), providing a program that is free to families at a cost to us of less than $17/child/year. Doctors, families and communities are clamoring for the program, and we are limited only by the financial resources to do more. Our current need focuses on funding and capacity building to provide technical assistance to support quality and expansion. With a blend of public and private support, we are well-positioned to use additional resources to serve more children and families in efficient and sustainable ways.