Meet One of Our Program Managers; Enhancing Program Quality Across the State

Karolina Klinker Travels the State Ensuring Best Practices and Increased Awareness of Reach Out and Read Georgia

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We had the pleasure of speaking this month with Karolina Klinker, the passionate and dedicated Program Manager for Reach Out and Read Georgia. 

This former Philadelphia social worker and mother of a five-year-old daughter is the face of the Reach Out and Read program in Georgia to many of our more than 122 program sites. 

Karolina fulfills a critical need to the Reach Out and Read Georgia program by way of offering customized technical assistance and support in person and remotely to implementers of the program. She is the point person with whom our program sites interact the most. She provides access to provider training modules, conducts site orientations and Site Coordinator trainings. 

"My job is basically quality assurance," Karolina said, light-heartedly. "I am making sure people understand how the program is supposed to be implemented. We have great doctors who learned about program in residency, when they are absorbing so much information about everything. When implementing the program, there are a lot of new things they learn. A lot of times, they need someone to talk to and ask questions to. I help with support, and facilitate communications, so we get the outcomes we all want: that kids are better prepared for school and parents are reading to kids more and this is integrated into their daily routines." 

One of the biggest challenges participating Reach Out and Read Georgia provider clinicians and Site Coordinators face is finding time to fundraise to support their sites annual book budget. Karolina offers support and suggestions to help engage them with their local communities and even with which municipal institutions in the area they might partner.  

When it comes to raising awareness of Reach Out and Read Georgia and recruiting new sites to implement the model, Karolina has found it useful to attend community meetings, proving that getting to know the real issues facing a certain community as well as their unique concerns can be a powerful way to connect. 

"As an advocate for the program, I've attended The Fulton County Early Childhood Education and Obesity Prevention Cohort, a group of organizations that come together to talk about reducing childhood obesity and improve early childhood literacy. I can talk about what ROR GA does and remind them that we are in the community, serving 1000s of kids a year. I want parents to promote the program to their children's doctors." 

Karolina is open-minded, "You just never know who will be a resource for you, and vice versa. I have a 5 year old, so it's natural to strike up conversation with other parents. You want every child to have the same opportunities."

Karolina started out as a social worker working with middle-schoolers, focusing on pregnancy prevention and making good choices. This work inspired her to dig deeper and help set a foundation of success for kids. 

"A lot of kids, by the time we get to them, there is a lot that's already happened to them...not to say that skill and knowledge and support systems can't help them, because they can. But, I wanted to get to the root -- and that starts with the parents." 

In her work as a home visitor with Communities and Schools of Marietta in Cobb county, Karolina was encouraging parents to understand the role they are playing in their children's lives. And, that is a principle that she's carried into her work with Reach Out and Read Georgia. 

"Reach Out and Read seemed like a great way to show parents what they could do." 

Today, Karolina traverses Georgia, from her base in Atlanta, visiting program sites from Savannah to Dalton, Alpharetta to Alma. 

It was in Alma where she visited South Georgia Primary Care, a site in a community center that also offers medical services.  

"I loved this site because these were doctors, lead by the center's head Dr. Rachel Burke, who understood what their role is in the community. They purchase books for children up to 10 years of age, they collect clothes for kids, the waiting room has a two-story play area, they even wrap gifts for families they choose to help during Christmas."

In another story from the field, Karolina talks about meeting a mom who says she didn't know the importance of reading to her child before she took him to his doctor who was implementing Reach Out and Read. Since then, she'd been reading to him regularly. 

As she was setting up for a Dr. Seuss reading at the clinic, Karolina was skeptical the 18-month-old would be engaged by story time that was beyond his developmental level. 

It surprised and delighted her that this little boy was the most engaged child in the room, because his mother had made reading together a daily practice and priority. 

"I was thrilled when the mother told me that when she found her son loved books, she would go to thrift stores and garage sales just to build his library. This program is changing family culture." 

Karolina also reports hearing from doctors that Reach Out and Read Georgia's message to parents that they need to read to their kids everyday has inspired some to go back and get their GEDs and embrace what they have to do to get their education. 

Karolina doesn't just work for a literacy organization that promotes parents reading to children everyday, she lives its principles. 

"I love closing out the day reading to my daughter. I feel really good knowing I did something that was good for her -- and good for me." 

On her nearly two years working for Reach Out and Read Georgia, Karolina says, "This is a great program. It's well executed and I am lucky to be a part of it and meet such wonderful people in the community." 

Contact Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read National Center
89 South St, Suite 201
Boston, MA 02111