Moments that Reach
Moments that Reach
Moments that Reach
November 14, 2022
After three years, the Reach Out and Read Leadership Conference was finally back in person last month. More than 130 leaders gathered in Madison, Wisconsin to engage with our 2022 theme of Vision, Values, and Voices – a Networked Approach to Supporting Communities.
This event was my first in-person Leadership Conference. It was great to connect with so many people and to feel the passion and commitment for our collective work! I continue to be impressed and humbled by the dedication of our network as we build on the three decades of success working to strengthen our future. The spirit of our affiliate leaders, the commitment of our medical champions, the dedication of our board and staff leaders, and the support of our partners are all part of the ROR magic, and it was on full display in Madison.
Coming together reaffirmed our shared belief that ROR is central to a larger early childhood ecosystem. And, our evidence-based public health intervention strengthens early relational health for children and families and continues to impact communities across the country.
Our time together was filled with engagement and learning, with sessions on diverse books, research on ROR’s effectiveness, and a plenary session on engaging healthcare systems. One highlight included the keynote address by Dr. Janean Dilworth-Bart, who walked us through a history of racial inequity that Black children have faced through time and how movements like ours can and should play a critical role in tackling systemic inequities that persist. It was the ‘journey’ she spoke of that related so well to the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work that ROR continues to embark on that resonated with many attendees. It was great to have this moment for our leaders to come together and build community as we continue to grow our work across the country.
September 19, 2022
As Reach Out and Read continues our work to scale our model and grow our organization, we are focused on lifting up our role in strengthening the ties that bond between parents and children. Our work promoting early relational health through our model is central to our next chapter as an organization and a critical component of the work being done in partnership with our medical providers across the country. Learn more about how we are working to strengthen these efforts through training and knowledge sharing from our Chief of Research and Innovation Nikki Shearman in a recent recap about this work.
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August 18, 2022
Expanding the scale of Reach Out and Read is vital to our organizational priorities and plans for growth over the next few years. To broaden our impact, we must focus on growing with quality and fidelity to our model, so that all children can benefit from Reach Out and Read while we build an even stronger organization and movement across the country.
Developing stronger affiliates is essential to the growth plan, ensuring that ROR sites are supported as they strengthen sustainability, raise public awareness and position ROR as national leaders in early child development.
Later this month, I will join a small group of national staff who will travel to the Bay Area in northern California to continue the work of growing a new regional affiliate in the area. Over the past 18 months, the National Office has laid the foundation for the Bay Area by creating a regional advisory committee, raising critical seed funding and hiring a local consultant to navigate the work. We are proud to expand upon the nearly 150 clinics already committed to program quality.
Our travels will bring us to meetings with key funders, policy leaders, ROR medical providers and other stakeholders as we work to build more support for our efforts and the work of Reach Out and Read in northern California. Meanwhile, the Program Operations and Research & Innovations teams are actively working to conduct quality site visits virtually and plan a virtual convening next month focused on ROR’s role in the Bay Area promoting early relational health and strengthening access to diverse books across our sites.
Growing an affiliate and expanding our reach is an all-hands-on-deck effort across our national team and will continue in other areas across the country over the next few years as we move to make an even greater impact on the lives of children across the country.
July 20, 2022
As Reach Out and Read looks to strengthen our efforts and expand our reach, it is clear that the need for urgent action to focus on the earliest development and
health of children is being called out by many. As this Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Blog states, “More kids than ever face the prospect of growing up less healthy and living shorter lives than their parents.” This prospect is one that ROR is eager to alter as we build upon our three decades of impact across the country and seek to strengthen early relational health for all children. This blog highlights some of the critical needs and efforts that are recommended to strengthen the focus of health systems, policy leaders, funders, and nonprofit organizations to make measurable advancing in this work.
June 16, 2022
I continue to experience the power of Reach Out and Read throughout my in-person and virtual travels across the organization. I have learned that our model can work best when it is integrated into systems that support the child and the entire family. As we seek to strengthen our work within the community and in partnership with the community, it helps me to see that value in action. For example, on a recent visit to New York City, I learned how New York City Health+Hospitals/Bellevue is dedicated to initiating, funding, and developing programs that improve the health and well-being of children that visit their hospital for care.
Claudia Aristy, the director and energy behind Bellevue’s ROR program and member of ROR’s National Board of Directors, shared what differentiates their program, “Our integrated approach truly sets us apart. The investment in full-time staff positions dedicated to the ROR program allows us to solicit book donations for older children, supply them to our pediatricians to get them in front of as many children as possible, and maintain a robust pool of volunteers. Beyond that, ROR also has dedicated physical spaces, such as the ROR Reading Corner in the pediatric unit, which ensures parents that this is a normal part of the pediatric experience. We have diverse populations for whom too much intervention causes concern for various reasons—ranging from citizenship status to bad experiences in the past.”
This hospital-wide approach extends into the ROR program. Serving children from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, the program scales for both the volume of patients and the language diversity of its families. Today, they offer books in multiple languages and dialects to their families. They engage them in the variety of resources that exist in the hospital but also in the community. They seek to meet families where they are, all in the name of Reach Out and Read. And all in the name of strengthening the relationship between families and Reach Out and Read and all towards promoting and growing early relational health. Aristy and her team understand that remaining agile, being responsive to their patient population and centering the work within the larger community is part of how Reach Out and Read must play out in a global city like New York.
To meet the needs of the families we serve, we must have an eye on what is happening outside of the clinic. The Children of Bellevue program is a model for how we can prioritize the health of all children, especially those from marginalized and underserved communities. By prioritizing their needs, we are prioritizing the entire community — when children are set up to grow into happy, healthy, and successful adults, we all thrive!
As we move into the next chapter of our work, Reach Out and Read (ROR) strives to serve as an essential public health intervention for all children across the country. Our deep dedication to early relational health and our continued commitment to creating equitable access will ensure that millions of children experience our model in a trusted, caring and equity-centered environment.
In my first 60 days, I have enjoyed meeting many of you and learning more about ROR during my visits in person in New York City, Boston, New Jersey, Georgia, Madison, and virtually in South Carolina, Colorado, Alabama, Washington, and Texas to name a few. Although sites and states vary, the dedication to serving children and families is at the core of our work. For example, I have learned about efforts at federally qualified health centers to ensure equitable access to our model for the children who need it most. In addition, I have seen firsthand the impact of COVID on children and families in our clinics. And it is encouraging to gain a greater understanding of the work in statehouses across the country to increase public investment in ROR and ensure that our government partners are working with us to advance our shared goal of strengthening the earliest development of children in their state.
My background in public health, combined with the proven success of the ROR model, will serve as a strong foundation for our Next Chapter. We will focus our work on strengthening early relational health for all children and families as we solidify ourselves as an essential public health intervention for all children across the country.
I am excited to be on this journey with the amazing team that is ROR and hope you join us in this critical work. More to come as I launch this blog to share the lessons learned and connections made along the way.
May 17, 2022
“I am excited to join Reach Out and Read in the next chapter of the story of this amazing organization. I am looking forward to working with the committed staff, board members, affiliate leaders, volunteers and supporters as we continue to lead our efforts to strengthen healthy child development and build stronger communities across the country. I am passionate about the work Reach Out and Read is doing to create even stronger relationships between clinicians, parents and their children through the power of reading together and literacy. For me, the cornerstone of building healthier communities is through building stronger relationships, and Reach Out and Read is at the core of that work. I look forward to getting started to help lead the path forward with this amazing team.”
“Marty’s experience in public health melded with his service mindset makes him a fantastic choice to lead us in our mission to ensure that families nationally feel confident, capable, and comfortable sharing books with their young children.”– Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Chair, Board of Directors