On behalf of the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team, I am sending thoughts to everyone in the state dealing with the aftermath of the unprecedented storms in August and September.
We have been thinking of you and your communities throughout the last month as we heard of torrential rains, floods, road washouts, mudslides, evacuations, sheer winds and tornadoes in multiple areas of the state. We know that several of our participating clinics were flooded, along with their entire towns. Superficial cleanup has been astounding, but real recovery will take time.
Perhaps, now, you have a few extra moments to let us know your situation and needs:
Were your clinics damaged?
Did you lose book inventory?
Do you have many families who lost homes, including all the books in their homes?
Will your usual book funding sources be diverted to emergency relief efforts?
How are the children in your community faring?
We know of at least one school system that delayed the start of school – acknowledging that the children were too traumatized by loss of homes and sense of normalcy to focus on academics.
Please remind your families that books not only build better brains, they build better bonds. Sharing stories, even without a book in hand, develops and reinforces strong, comforting, nurturing parent-child relationships. These relationships act as protective shields for children living through natural disaster. Reach Out and Read Wisconsin functions on an extremely tight budget. However, what we lack in a financial cushion, we make up for in the strength of our collaborative network, interest in sharing your stories and unstoppable, creative, problem-solving energies. Please tell us of your needs and/or send pictures if possible. We may be able to offer some assistance. Here’s wishing for a month of clearer skies. Karin Mahony and the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team
Come learn about how early literacy builds a baby’s brain infrastructure, as well as economic implications for the well-being of our families, communities, and state.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin (ROR) advisory council members are hosting a friendraising and fundraising event. We want to increase awareness about how crucial early language exposure is to a child’s development and the link between high-quality, early intervention and future community economic health.
Join Reach Out and Read Wisconsin on Monday, Oct. 1
In 1928, Congress created Child Health Day, a national observance bringing attention to the “fundamental necessity” of children’s health programs.
In the spirit of the first National Child Health Day, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin is hosting a social media campaign to raise awareness for children’s health. You can show your support for kids by taking a photo and posting on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ForKidsHealth. The individual or organization with the most creative photo will win a $25 gift card! See contest rules at www.chawisconsin.org.
To receive a free #ForKidsHealth message bubble sign, please complete the online request form by Sept. 14. If you would like additional signs for your clinic or partners, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support and partnership as we work to improve children’s health and literacy in Wisconsin. Please follow Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin on Facebook and Twitter.
It may seem like Reach Out and Read (ROR) Wisconsin operates on its own, but we are actually part of a larger policy and advocacy group called the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin (Alliance). The Alliance provides a home for ROR Wisconsin by providing financial, administrative and graphic design support. The Alliance’s goals are to raise awareness for children’s health, mobilize leaders, impact public health and implement programs proven to work. To accomplish this, the Alliance oversees seven initiatives:
Early Literacy (ROR Wisconsin)
Grief and Bereavement
Injury Prevention and Death Review
These initiatives work together to spread awareness, foster collaboration between key partners, influence legislation and implement effective programs and coalitions that lead to better outcomes for kids across the state. Here are some notable accomplishments from the past year:
Asthma: The Wisconsin Asthma Coalition (WAC) conducts walkthroughs to identify asthma triggers and provide low to no-cost recommendations to reduce or eliminate triggers. This year, Asthma staff completed walkthroughs in 14 schools and 15 child care centers in five different counties. Additionally, staff worked with YoungStar, Wisconsin’s child care quality rating program, to better align their environmental standards with WAC’s guidelines. These efforts, and many others, will continue into the 2018-19 school year.
Emergency Medical Services for Children: The Emergency Medical Services for Children Program (EMSC) has partnered with 14 emergency departments to improve their pediatric readiness. Over the next two years, the emergency departments will use a quality improvement frame work to improve pediatric emergency care safety and quality. The following emergency departments are participating:
Crossing Rivers Health – Crawford County
Memorial Medical Center – Ashland
Sauk Prairie Healthcare – Prairie du Sac
Southwest Health Center – Platteville
Mile Bluff Medical Center – Mauston
Divine Savior Healthcare – Portage
UnityPoint Health – Meriter – Madison
Howard Young Medical Center – Woodruff
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – Franklin Hospital
Waupun Memorial Hospital
Mercyhealth Hospital and Medical Center – Walworth
Mercyhealth System and Trauma Center – Janesville
Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center
Marshfield Medical Center
EMSC also provided two pediatric specific education sessions for pre-hospital providers in Door and Oneida counties. A total of 46 emergency care providers were trained at the March 24 and May 10 sessions.
Infant Death Center: The Infant Death Center (IDC) gave two presentations on addressing the unique bereavement needs of mothers experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. The first presentation was at the southeastern Wisconsin Prenatal Care Coordination Partnership (PNCC), a diverse group of agencies and medical providers who offer the PNCC Medicaid benefit to women in the southeastern portion of Wisconsin. The IDC also presented to a group of home visiting nurses at the Southside Health Center in Milwaukee.
Injury Prevention and Death Review: In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Injury Prevention and Death Review staff facilitated the Keeping Kids Alive in Wisconsin Conference on April 17-18 at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center in Oshkosh. More than 100 local child death review (CDR) and fetal infant mortality review (FIMR) team members attended to explore trends in child death and learn about best practice prevention strategies. The Clark County CDR team was awarded the annual William Perloff Keeping Kids Alive in Wisconsin Award for successfully implementing prevention activities in their community through data collection and death reviews.
Medical Home: Medical homes are characterized by trusting partnerships between families, children and their health care teams. Children who receive care within a medical home may have improved health outcomes and families are more satisfied with such care. The Medical Home initiative works to ensure more Wisconsin children are served within medical homes by guiding, educating, and partnering with health care teams and families. Over the last year, Medical Home staff have completed 18 trainings in 11 counties, reaching 154 attendees, including 51 clinicians. The trainings discussed developmental screening within child well-care, pediatric mental health screening and other key resources.
Oral Health: On June 21, 2017, Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 146. This new law allows dental hygienists to practice with fewer restrictions and in more settings including nursing homes, hospitals, day care centers and physicians’ offices. The Oral Health team actively supported the bill in order to expand access to oral services statewide.
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin: Over the past year, 20 clinics launched new ROR programs. There are now more than 215 ROR programs in Wisconsin! This growth will continue into 2019 as two health systems, SSM Health Dean Medical Group and ThedaCare Physicians, are planning to make ROR a standard of pediatric care by providing ROR in all of their Wisconsin clinics. They join 10 health systems already implementing ROR within all of their Wisconsin clinics; Access Community Health Centers, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Milwaukee Health Services, NorthLakes Community Clinic, Progressive Community Health Centers, Vernon Memorial Healthcare, UW Health, Watertown Regional Medical Center and Wildwood Family Clinic.
The Alliance’s graphic design and communication team supports all of the initiatives’ work with newsletters, conference materials, social media campaigns, promotional items and annual reports. They also manage the Alliance website, which will be getting a major update in the coming months.
If you would like to support the Alliance’s work to improve children’s health, please visit our website or consider making a donation.
Continue the summer fun and get the kids ready for back to school with these literacy events taking place across Wisconsin. If you don’t see an event in your area, be sure to check out your local library’s website or other local community resources.
Reach Out and Read (ROR) Wisconsin recently received more than 1,200 books thanks to Epic’s annual book drive in Madison. Our staff will distribute these new and gently-used books across Wisconsin as we travel to clinics for site visits. This is Epic’s fourth annual book drive to benefit ROR Wisconsin.
The new books will be prescribed and given to children by their medical provider at well-child visits from 6 months to 5 years. The gently-used books will help clinics expand their literacy-rich environment as they can be kept in waiting areas or exam rooms for families to enjoy while they are waiting to see the provider. Gently-used books can also be used to supplement the new books and they make great gifts for older siblings who visit the clinic with a ROR-aged brother or sister.
If you are interested in hosting a book drive for a ROR Wisconsin clinic near you, please contact Alex Rogers at email@example.com or (608) 442-4175. Clinics accept books for kids of all ages, but we do ask that you screen donated books before dropping them off at a clinic. Please use our book guidelines when screening and sorting donations.
We would like to thank book drive coordinators Kate Parr and Adrienne Kiser and all the generous Epic employees who donated books. ROR Wisconsin is very grateful for our continued partnership with Epic and we know our clinics and families appreciate these books.
Several families joined Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff at the Duck Pond on Sunday, June 10 for our annual Madison Mallards fundraiser. The Mallards are a Madison-based collegiate summer baseball team that competes in the Northwoods League. It was a thrilling game, as the Mallards won with a home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. Tickets sales raised $170 dollars for our statewide literacy program. This money will provide more than 50 books. Children will bring home these books from their doctor’s office to enjoy again and again.
Books build better brains. Children participating in Reach Out and Read have language development scores that are improved by 3-6 months. Last year, more than 109,000 children statewide left their well-child visits with the gift of a new, high-quality book. But there’s more to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin than just those books.
Behind the baseball and the books, our program:
Is a two-generational clinical intervention that supports parent-child bonding, early brain development and a life-long love of learning
Has almost unparalleled access to children through medical clinics (nearly 90% of all young children see a healthcare provider at least annually for a check-up), supporting families through the trusted voice of their medical provider
Is incredibly cost-effective, as the implementation is embedded in the existing health systems
Is growing quickly, at the rate of 30 clinics a year (more than 20 clinics have initiated applications since the beginning of 2018!)
If you were unable to attend the Mallards game but would like to support our work, please use the button below! Thank you for giving more Wisconsin children the opportunity to reach out and read.
Since September 11, 2017, I have been serving a full AmeriCorps term with the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin. This is my first experience fully submerging myself into public health. Although I have only been here a short time, I have gained valuable insight on how to S.U.C.C.E.E.D. in the public health field.
My term with AmeriCorps has been a transition. There’s been a considerable learning curve as I’ve taken all the skills I learned in the classroom and put them to use. The shift to full independent living and the stress of graduate school applications has made it challenging at times. This has taught me the true importance of support. I am not just talking about the support you give and receive from interpersonal relationships, but also the support you give yourself. I realized that our professional and personal lives will inevitably intertwine and the effects can be depleting. When you aren’t supporting yourself in one area, you will always feel it in another. It is important to be able to recognize how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, and create a game plan to either sustain the positive environment or change the circumstances. A phrase I have truly started to embody is: “self-care is healthcare.”
Here at Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, we have seven initiatives. That means there is always a lot going on! We not only support existing statewide programs, but we also work to create new perspectives on children’s health issues. We know public health works to create systems change. In order to create that change, we need individuals who think inside, outside and all around the box. Don’t be afraid to take the leap and explore ideas that may seem too unconventional. Sometimes radical ideas ignite our success.
The Alliance serves as a table where federal, state and local stakeholders can gather and discuss the health issues children are facing in Wisconsin. If I have learned anything from my time in this position, it is that public health success relies on strong relationships. Coalition creation is the key to getting things done. Coalitions need interdisciplinary professionals to meet the needs of every problem. Once established, coalitions require integrity and accountability to sustain over time.
My last two points go hand in hand. The first is to exceed expectations. Going beyond what is expected will never go unnoticed and it’s appreciated by all those involved. When you produce good work, you feel prepared and confident, which creates a positive work environment. Always ask how you can do better and if you can do more.
The final thing I’ve learned is the importance of detail. Detail is everything! When planning an event, it is so important to have every detail checked multiple times. When attention to detail is a priority, events run smoothly. This has become evident while working with our Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team. One of my responsibilities is to coordinate state legislators’ visits to our Reach Out and Read clinics. Paying attention to details during planning has made state leaders more informed and helped them make decisions that positively impact children.
One of my favorite parts about being an AmeriCorps member at the Alliance has been working with our state’s amazing Reach Out and Read team! They are an inspiration to me and I am always amazed at the work they accomplish with such a small but mighty staff. If it was not for their positive support and guidance, I would not have been able to put together four successful legislative visits. Some of the best moments have been watching our state leaders engage with books and children. The smiles on everyone’s faces are a reminder of why Reach Out and Read is such an impactful program.
Summer is here and what better way to start off this season of sun, fun and hopefully some relaxing time spent reading than by attending a literacy event in your area? Check out the information below for local Wisconsin events happening in June and July. If you don’t see an event in your area, be sure to check out your local library’s website as they often have many summer reading programs for both kids and adults.
Please note: use arrows below table to scroll to the right for more information.
This article was originally published by the Cap Times on April 23, 2018.
Recently, I encountered a new-to-Wisconsin mother and toddler who had left behind a not-so-good environment. As we established trust with one another, it came out that she was concerned about her child’s mild speech delay. The upheaval in their lives meant they hadn’t been able to find a primary care clinic and schedule his regular checkups yet. What could I do that might offer some immediate benefit for them?
As many know, I do a lot of work around early literacy promotion. In the last few weeks, there have been two relevant, notable studies released in this field. The first article is a meta-analysis — a combining of several studies together — showing interventions in parent-child shared reading have clear benefits, not just to the child’s language and literacy skills (we’ve known this for some time), but also psychosocially. There were better social and emotional skills and improved behavior in the children. Less expected was the benefit to parents, who had less stress, less anxiety, and greater confidence in their ability to parent.
The second study was on the Video Interaction Project (created by an NYU friend and colleague, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn). It uses video recording of a parent playing and reading with their child, followed by watching the recording together with a parenting coach who points out notable moments in the interaction. The researchers found decreases in child aggression, hyperactivity, and difficulty with attention.
These both support the value of working on early literacy skills, the foundation of the almost-30-year-old Reach Out and Read program, which makes discussion about early literacy an integral and routine part of checkups in early childhood. (Note: I am the founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin, and serve on the national board.)
However, I’d like to point out that these studies emphasize a critical element that’s not always present in the countless literacy programs out there. While you may view Reach Out and Read as a child literacy program, it’s really secretly a parenting program: a program designed to gently and collaboratively support strong shared reading between a parent and a child.
I don’t object to programs that bring high-quality books into a child’s home, but that emphasis is often misplaced; the book itself does little if handed to a child without any other interaction. A child learns the magic and power of reading only when a loving, nurturing, responsive caregiver (usually a parent, but could be anyone) reads aloud with them. A book that sits on the shelf is useless — it only does its magic when open in the hands of a parent and child reading together.
Equally important is a parent who knows how to read effectively to a young, squirmy toddler, a technique known as dialogic reading. Simply reading at a child doesn’t work for a child with a naturally short attention span. Knowing how to read with them and interact is an important learned skill. Merely providing books accomplishes only part of the job — supporting parenting confidence is absolutely essential.
It’s not just about the books. It’s about the act of reading together. A book without a caring adult…is just a book.
The key point: Parents benefit most when we offer clear modeling, coaching and encouragement. It’s not enough to say what to do; careful intentional skill-building is crucial for success. This explains the incredible outcomes seen from high-quality home visiting programs, for example. So question projects and recognize that they are not all the same. Ask yourself if they merely provide resources or whether they are building capabilities or capacities in families
So what of the family I encountered? I took the board book we had given him and pointed out her child’s brief interactions with the book. Then I modeled talking about illustrations and I reassured her that his turning away quickly was just his normal short attention span. Finally, I complimented her on her good parenting when she described how he would bring a book to her and “ask” to be read to.
She beamed with pride. And that’s how I knew we were doing right by her.