10 facts about Reach Out and Read Wisconsin

As we continue to celebrate our 10th anniversary throughout this year, we thought it would be fun to share 10 facts about Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

  1. Since 2010, there has been more than a 400% growth in participating clinics. We have experienced amazing growth since our affiliate started in 2010! Today, more than a third of Wisconsin clinics that provide pediatric primary care partner with Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

2. Currently, 265 clinics across the state leverage books and conversations about reading aloud to promote positive caregiver-child interactions that foster healthy brain development in the critical first years of life.

Find a participating clinic near you!

3. At those 265 clinics, 1,850 providers are trained on our evidence-based model to give parents supportive, encouraging and positive advice for how to incorporate reading aloud into their daily routines and how parents are their child’s first (and best) teacher.

Example: When reading together, don’t worry about reading every word on the page —your child will enjoy talking about and discussing the pictures, and that’s just fine.

4. Reach Out and Read Wisconsin clinics have collectively completed an astonishing 1,839,149 well-child visits since 2010.

5. Since 2010, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin clinics have given more than 1 million books to children ages 6 months to 5 years, — 1,232,700 to be exact!

6. Since 2010, 31,693 new and 12,097 gently-used books have been donated to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. These books are delivered to clinics across the state to give out at their well-child visits or in their waiting rooms, to siblings or in a clinic’s Little Free Libraries.

If you are interested in donating books, our virtual book drive is a great way to help while respecting social distancing.

7. In 2017, then – State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Evers, awarded Reach Out and Read Wisconsin with a Friend of Education award. We were recognized for making outstanding contributions to Wisconsin’s children.

ROR Wisconsin team with Friend of Education award

In 2018, Wisconsin Literacy presented Reach Out and Read with the Outstanding Achievement in Family Literacy award during their Celebration of Literacy.

Wisconsin Literacy's Achievement in Family Literacy award presented to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin

8. Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is the early literacy initiative of Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, a program under Children’s Wisconsin.

The Alliance is made up of seven health initiatives focused on improving children’s health throughout Wisconsin. In 2019, the Alliance celebrated 25 years of being Wisconsin’s voice for children’s health!

Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin staff at Miller Park
The Alliance staff at our annual retreat at Miller Park!

9. Since 2012, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin has hosted an annual, day-long meeting to bring together clinics and community partners. This event focuses on education related to early literacy, celebration of the work all the clinics across the state are doing and provides a networking opportunity for participating clinics.  More than 360 people have attended since our first meeting.

If you are interested in attending this year’s event, visit our Eventbrite page to learn more.

2019 Reach Out and Read Wisconsin Annual Meeting
Presentation at Reach Out and Read Wisconsin’s 2019 annual meeting

10. In 2010, when Reach Out and Read Wisconsin was founded we were one of the smallest affiliates in the nation. Today, we are the 5th largest affiliate in the Reach Out and Read network.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin receives 25,000 book donation

Friday, January 24, 2020, was a big day for the Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. In partnership with City of Milwaukee’s Office of Early Childhood Initiatives, Too Small to Fail, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, unveiled a Family Read, Play and Learn space at the Justice Center in Milwaukee.

The child literacy space in the family court waiting area at the Justice Center is the first of its kind in the nation created by Too Small to Fail. The literacy space is part of their larger program to raise awareness about the importance of early literacy, brain development and early learning. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Ms. Clinton chatted with parents, read to several children and then participated in a community forum. Additional panel participants sharing their messages of the importance of early literacy promotion and power of collaboration were Dea Wright, Director of the City of Milwaukee Office of Early Childhood; Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Mayor; Maxine White, Chief Judge of Milwaukee County; Ramona Gonzales, President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation and Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

Spaces like the one at the Justice Center are designed to meet parents where they are and help them make the most of everyday moments that can have a big impact on their child’s development. Too Small to Fail has worked to create similar spaces at laundry mats, including one in Milwaukee and playgrounds across the country. The spaces provide a much-needed early learning environment, according to Ms. Clinton.

“A fundamental test for our country is whether or not we can make early learning available and real to all kids and families,” she said.

After the event at the Justice Center, Ms. Clinton and other representatives from Too Small to Fail visited Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Chavez Clinic. Chavez Clinic was one of the first clinics to launch a Reach Out and Read program in Wisconsin. In their more than 20 years of participation in the evidence-based, clinical intervention, more than 100,000 books have been given to children in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. The now four participating Sixteenth Street Clinics serve more than 10,000 young children each year. Emilia Aranda, MD Director of Pediatrics for Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin advisory council member, provided a tour of the pediatrics clinic for Ms. Clinton. Afterward, Ms. Clinton read to a group of children and took pictures with Chavez Clinic staff.

In celebration of their five years of collaboration with Reach Out and Read National Center to advance early literacy and promote early brain development, Too Small to Fail has donated 25,000 copies of the bilingual book DJ’s Busy Day to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

These books will be delivered to Reach Out and Read participating clinics throughout the state in the upcoming months. In the meantime, a special thank you goes out to Books4School for storing the books until they are delivered.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff with Chelsea Clinton of Too Small to Fail
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team with Chelsea Clinton at the Chavez Clinic
Clinic coordinators from Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Chelsea Clinton
Clinic coordinators from Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Chelsea Clinton
Ms. Clinton reads aloud at the Chavez Clinic to young children
Ms. Clinton reads aloud at the Chavez Clinic

To our clinics, providers and families affected by last month’s storms, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is thinking of you

Dear Reach Out and Read Wisconsin family,
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

graphic of books

Celebrate National Child Health Day!

Join Reach Out and Read Wisconsin on Monday, Oct. 1

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff with message bubble signs

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 ljensen@chw.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.

We look forward to seeing your photos on Oct. 1!

For Kids Health message bubble

Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin

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:

  • Asthma
  • Early Literacy (ROR Wisconsin)
  • Emergency Care
  • Grief and Bereavement
  • Injury Prevention and Death Review
  • Medical Home
  • Oral Health

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.

Wisconsin Asthma Coalition logo

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.

Emergency Medical Services for Children logo


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.

Wisconsin Infant Death Center logo


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.  

Keeping Kids Alive Logo

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.

Medical Home logo

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.

Wisconsin Oral Health logo

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.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin logo

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.

Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin staff at Miller Park
                               The Alliance staff at our annual retreat at Miller Park!