Reach Out and Read (ROR) program …

… prescribing books and reading as a fundamental part of well-child visits in Forsyth County

marquee_09Smart Start of Forsyth County, Inc. (SSFC) has received support from the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) to expand early literacy work through the Reach Out and Read (ROR) program in Forsyth County. SSFC’s funds are part of the recent investment by NCPC to Smart Start partnerships across North Carolina to be used before June 30, 2014.

SSFC’s was the largest, single-site investment, almost one-quarter of the available funds. NCPC made the large award based upon its confidence in SSFC’s commitment to taking the ROR program to scale in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Community.

ROR is a national program that supports doctors in their efforts to prescribe reading to young children and families during well-child visits. SSFC will work with four large medical practices, serving nearly fifty (50%) percent of Forsyth County’s birth-to-five pediatric clients, to promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms by giving books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. This prescription comes with book sharing, free books for children to keep, and waiting rooms full of books.

SSFC chief executive officer, Larry Vellani, noted an additional, unique value of the program: “Unlike some of our other important investments in early care and learning, Reach Out and Read has the potential to reach the majority of children birth to five in our community, not just those who may spend part of their day in licensed child care centers or homes. Reach Out and Read is a great complement to our newly established early developmental screening program, a new partnership with pediatric practices in the seven counties of the Northwest Community Care Network based in Winston-Salem.” (For more information about the ABCD program visit http://smartstart-fc.org/abcd-program/)

The first four practices to sign-on for the program are Downtown Health Plaza, Forsyth Pediatrics-Winston-Salem, Westgate Pediatrics, and Winston East Pediatrics. Together, these four practices serve almost 9,000 birth-to-five years of age clients, representing 49% of the Medicaid-enrolled children in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

mother-child-doctor-smallDowntown Health Plaza and Winston East Pediatrics have been piloting ROR for the past two years with support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. SSFC, in partnership with these pediatric pioneers, hopes to help funders and pediatric health care professionals take the program to greater scale. In fact, three other practices are waiting in the wings to join the four practices already enrolled, as funding is available: Ford, Simpson, Lively & Rice in Kernersville as well as Winston-Salem, and Cornerstone Pediatrics in Kernersville, serving an additional almost 5,000 Medicaid-enrolled birth-to-five year old children in the community.

Winston-Salem’s Nurse Family Partnership, funded through the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, also uses the Reach Out and Read program in its work with first time mothers and their children.

For more information about the ROR program across North America, click here; for an overview of ROR in North Carolina, click here.