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WHO We Are
Reach Out and Read is a national nonprofit with programs in every state that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating early literacy and relational health promotion into pediatric primary care. Our mission is to promote children's literacy and social-emotional health during the span of rapid brain growth and development between birth and age five.
We believe that there is no better way to help parents support their children’s development than by having a trusted medical caregiver promote positive parenting behaviors including daily shared reading. Over two dozen studies confirm the effectiveness of this model and Reach Out and Read is the only national literacy promotion model endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a standard of care that every child should receive.
We also believe that something as important as literacy promotion should be universally accessible to the region’s children and families. Since just about every child attends well child visits, embedding our program into pediatric primary care helps us ensure that we are reaching the children who need the program the most.
Although every child deserves and benefits from access to the program, we know that children who are part of historically marginalized communities benefit from Reach Out and Read the most. As part of our effort to expand with equity, we are prioritizing supporting programs in community health centers, rural health centers, and clinics that have a high percentage of patients on Medicaid.
For 23 years Raising Readers, a beloved Maine program very much like Reach Out and Read, supported the literacy of virtually every child in the state. Partnering with over 1,600 medical professionals at 325 sites, they distributed literacy guidance and 4 million books to 350,000 children. Sadly, that program will abruptly stop in March of 2024.
We are stepping in to fill the gap for Maine clinics and families. Although the Maine State Library System’s new book-mailing program will eventually benefit many Maine children, we believe in the power of the pediatric provider to amplify the impact of giving families books. Moreover, because we believe that something as important as literacy promotion should be universally accessible to the state’s children and families, the pediatric primary care space is the ideal setting in which to provide it.
What Clinics Need to know
We are looking forward to partnering with clinics in Maine, but we know this is a big change for you and that having to transition to a different program is difficult. Please know we are here for you! We want to make the process as easy as possible. Here are some things you should know. Please feel free to contact us if you still have questions, or are having any difficulties with the application – we want to help!
what will be the same
The basic program model: we promote early literacy and relational health in the pediatric primary care space.
Clinical partners like you will deliver the program at well child visits. You will give families books beginning at the 6 month exam.
We will take care of your book funding needs by fundraising on your behalf and putting those funds into accounts with the book vendors we use to purchase books at reduced cost.
We will also support programs by providing training and technical assistance.
Everyone who conducts well child visits will have to take a one-time, CME-accredited online training.
You will select your own books from Reach Out and Read catalogs and they will be sent directly to you.
Twice a year we will ask you to report on how many children you saw, their demographics, and how many books you gave them.
At least annually we will check in with you to be sure that you have enough books and provide any technical assistance you may need.
We are working with Raising Readers in an advisory capacity to bring the program to as many sites as possible.
Interested clinics should let us know by beginning an application or contacting us.
Once we see how many clinics are interested and how many children they care for, we will begin bringing them on in June, 2024.
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) will be among the first sites we bring on.
Accepted sites that are not brought on immediately will be added to a waiting list and brought on as funding allows.
We have never had to apply or report before, why do you have these requirements?
Reach Out and Read does not have the resources to bring the program to every clinic in every state. Having a national application process helps us plan, fundraise, and budget for bringing on new sites. It also helps ensure that our expansion is equitable and prioritizes historically marginalized communities.
And having a reporting requirement helps us:
Identify clinics where we need to provide additional program support;
Anticipate what fundraising we will need to do to meet the region’s book needs; and
Ensure that all of the programs in our region meet the same high quality standards.
Why do we have to complete training before we can start the program?
Anyone who conducts well child visits (MDs, DOs, RNs, PAs, etc.) needs complete a one time, online, CME-qualified training. We know that there are tremendous pressures on their time but we believe that the quality of their anticipatory guidance is essential to the success of the program and that they are the vital link to improving outcomes for children and families. We want everyone to have the same tools and language to communicate that anticipatory guidance.
What do I need to have in order to complete an application?
You can start and stop an application as many times as you would like. You can temporarily put “n/a” in a section in order to move through other parts of the application you are ready to complete, but you will eventually need:
Information about how many children you see each year and their demographics (age, race, language spoken at home, and insurance coverage).
Your clinic’s W9 (a federal form that documents your Taxpayer Identification Number)
If you are a nonprofit organization, a copy of your IRS 501c3 determination letter
A letter from your organization’s leadership indicating that they support your clinic’s participation in Reach Out and Read. (There is a template on the National Center’s website, and we have a special one for our region’s Federally Qualified Health Centers.)
If you are having trouble answering a question, please contact us.
What if we are a Federally Qualified Health Center?
We are prioritizing bringing on Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). If your organization is a FQHC, many of the National Center’s application questions do not apply to you but you cannot leave them blank. Please contact us directly for help in filling out your application.
Why can’t Reach Out and Read just give money to Raising Readers?
Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization. We don’t have the resources it would take to replace the foundation funding that Raising Readers used to receive. Our funding comes from a mix of corporate, foundation, individual and public dollars – and much of the funding we currently have on hand was raised specifically for Reach Out and Read programs in other states.
So, what’s the plan for Reach Out and Read to expand into Maine?
We want to serve as many children and families as possible but we haven’t had time to build the funding and program capacity we would need to bring on all of Maine’s sites at once, so we are phasing our expansion.We are working to determine how many clinics we can bring on, when we can bring them on, and how they will be prioritized. We do know that we will initially prioritize Federally Qualified Health Centers. We will update this FAQ as we have more information.
What does your timing look like for bringing on clinics?
Reach Out and Read tentatively plans on:
January – June 2024: developing a strategy for phased onboarding
March 2024: attending the Maine AAP conference
March – June 2024: working with clinics that have approved applications to ensure that required training is completed and needed systems are established.
June 2024 -- approved and trained sites will begin offering Reach Out and Read. Some sites will be waitlisted and brought on as resources allow.
If we have our own resources, can we still get books the way we used to?
Unfortunately no. Raising Readers will stop distributing books early in February. Of course, you may still make retail purchases. Also, in the future Reach Out and Read may be able to offer bulk purchasing discounts for clinic sites with their own resources. More details on this to follow.
Should my fundraising team start applying for grants to purchase books for our clinic?
To sustainably support Maine going forward, Reach Out and Read plans to seek funding from corporations, foundations, and individual donors. We generally have more success and are able to tap into larger grants than individual clinics doing their own asks because we fundraise on behalf of entire communities, states, or regions.We encourage you to let us fundraise on your behalf and not pursue funding specifically for books at this moment.
Is it possible to support Reach Out and Read in Maine directly?
Absolutely! We need all the help we can get to make this a smooth transition for families and clinics. We’d encourage you to visit the donation page we have created just for Maine programs.
Can I contact Raising Readers for more information?
Until March, you may contact out to your dedicated Raising Readers’ staff person or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will find more information about the wrap up of their program here.
“Pediatric practitioners amplify the impact of giving families a book by combining the gift with advice from a trusted source about how and why to use it.“
-- Alex Chu, RORNE Executive Director
At routine health checkups from infancy through age 5, Reach Out and Read-trained pediatric clinicians:
Talk with parents about the benefits of reading aloud and engaging with their young children in language rich activities
Show caregivers how to look at books and talk about the stories with their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
Encouragefamilies to cuddle up, read together at home, and build routines around books
Give the child a new, developmentally and culturally appropriate book for their home library
During the exam, practitioners use the book for developmental surveillance, observing how the child and caregiver interact with the book and each other
Reach Out and Read is 501(c)3 nonprofit that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. To support our expansion of programming in Maine: