A guest blog written by Donna Lowry, MD, President and CEO
of Ready for School, Holland, MI.
Starting with just one provider in 2010, Ready for School of
Holland and Zeeland Michigan, believed that Reach Out and Read
(ROR) would support its community wide commitment to kindergarten
readiness. It has done that and more!
The Holland Community Health Center (HCHC), which provides high
quality care to children who are on Medicaid, is a different place
then it was prior to starting ROR. Bringing ROR to the Clinic
has transformed health care delivery. The respect and care
for the whole child, the whole adult and the whole family is
closely linked with bringing a literacy focus to the office.
Susan Frost, Practice Manager, HCHC shares, "Reach
Out and Read started us talking about reading with caregivers and
children. It set off a chain reaction of change, so now from
the waiting room to the exam room, we celebrate literacy. The
ROR library was expanded to a lending library for older children
and adults. Our volunteer ROR coordinator, Mary Bosscher
(pictured), is in the waiting room reading to children, working on
puzzles and "I spys". She also has conversations with older
children and adults. She gives book recommendations, talks
about hobbies and connects people's interests with
reading. Reach Out and Read has been a big part of
transforming the clinic culture."
Since 2010 Ready for School has partnered with over 50 health
care providers to navigate ROR program guidelines and expectations
as well as offering assistance for securing funding and
Multiple partner health care providers have indicated that the
program has been a positive addition to their practice and
experience for their patients. Beth Peter, MD, a family
practitioner shares, "The Reach Out and Read program has been
incredible for me as a doctor. Giving a book to an anxious, tired
child during a check-up changes the whole atmosphere! It's a way to
remind everyone that we're on the same team - a team to help each
child get cozy, comfortable, and able to reach their full
potential. It's also great to know that the books we provide have a
positive impact at home, too. Reading helps the bedtime routine,
opens the mind to imaginative play, and strengthens the bond
between caregiver and child."
Reach Out and Read (ROR) plays a vital role in our community
wide multi-sector strategies for kindergarten readiness.
Linking literacy and health and opening up conversation about child
development and learning is crucial for kindergarten
readiness. Transforming healthcare practice culture has been
an incredible side effect!