New York, NY (PRWEB) May 01, 2013
Today, Reach Out and Read of Greater New York launches the Prescription for Childhood Literacy Campaign, an unprecedented initiative to raise $4 million in four years to expand early literacy promotion for children 6 months through 5 years old in New York, Long Island and the Hudson Valley. The campaign launch will be formally announced at the organization's Annual Benefit, "Where Great Stories Begin," taking place on May 6th in New York City.
Early literacy has gained nationwide attention recently, with President Obama making a call for an increased investment in preschool programs during his second term. In New York City, where one in three children lives in poverty, the stakes around early literacy are high; according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “By the time children from low-income families enter kindergarten, they are typically 12-14 months below national norms in language and prereading skills.” This deficit sets kids back right from the start; 88% of children who read below grade level in first grade continue to underperform in fourth grade, and remain behind their peers throughout their education.
“We don’t want to wait until children are struggling in elementary school to help them," said Jack E. Pace, III Esq., Chairman of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York's Board of Directors. “Our goal is to help New York families, especially those in poverty, build a strong foundation for school success starting at infancy. With our Prescription for Childhood Literacy Campaign, we are committed to making our pediatric literacy model available in all health centers throughout the region.”
Reach Out and Read takes a unique approach to preparing children for school – the program is delivered by pediatricians during regular health checkups. From 6 months to 5 years old, children visiting Reach Out and Read clinics receive books from their health care provider. In addition, families receive literacy counseling and are especially encouraged to support the language and brain development of their young children by reading aloud to them daily.
Fourteen peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that parents respond to the Reach Out and Read program; families read more often to their children and children show stronger language skills, with children in one study demonstrating a 6-month developmental edge in comparison to those not exposed to the program.
“The pediatrician is the key,” said Reach Out and Read of Greater New York’s Executive Director, Traci Lester. “Families trust the advice they get from their pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner. And these are the health care providers who have access to families during the most critical years of child development – birth through 5 years old.“
With more than 180 locations in the New York metropolitan area, from large public hospitals to small community health care centers, Reach Out and Read is able to reach a quarter of a million low-income preschool children a year. The goals of the Prescription for Childhood Literacy Campaign are to expand the number of hospitals, clinics and pediatricians who promote literacy in order to reach even more children; invest in a stronger understanding about the importance of reading aloud and language exposure to a child’s brain development and academic success; and strengthen Reach Out and Read’s book supply to ensure that pediatricians can meet the ever-increasing need for books to provide their patients.