Reach Out and Read’s Public Policy Agenda

From infancy, all children need support and nurturing, and all families need equitable access to opportunities and resources that can help their children grow, develop, and learn. We challenge policymakers, clinicians, and early childhood champions of all kinds to use this public policy agenda to focus investment, advocacy, program development, and resources.

A unique player in the ecosystem of early childhood services

In deep partnership with clinicians, Reach Out and Read leverages the pediatric well-child visit, using children’s books and reading aloud to support parents in fostering healthy relationships with their young children. A proven primary health care model, Reach Out and Read is ready to apply its 30-plus years of experience to connect the worlds of primary health care, early literacy, and public health.

Our Public Policy Agenda calls for investment not in Reach Out and Read alone, but as part of a bigger ecosystem that supports families and enhances health, literacy, and education.

Reach Out and Read’s public policy priorities

  • Promote universal reach by integrating the Reach Out and Read model into pediatric primary care for every child, birth through age 5.
  • Advocate for a family-focused approach (sometimes called a “two-generation” approach) to improve the overall health of the family, including maternal and child health to support early relationships and literacy, using the Reach Out and Read “shared reading” strategy to address the physical, developmental, and behavioral health needs of parents and caregivers and their young children.
  • Establish consistent, holistic well-child support through early childhood care teams in family-centered medical homes that extend Reach Out and Read beyond the clinic to enhance care for and impact on young children and their families, support workforce development, and strengthen community connections.
  • Advance equity as a key force inherent in supporting the healthy development of all children, including efforts to ensure access to the advantages of pediatric primary care and early childhood best practices, transcending barriers some families face because of race, ethnicity, language, and income.
Setting the stage for all children to succeed

The principles that fuel Reach Out and Read’s work and help to define its policy priorities stem from one core value: All children require equitable access to the opportunities vital for a strong start in life. These opportunities include support for the positive nurturing relationships that set the foundation for healthy development and education beginning at birth.

While Reach Out and Read has made great strides operating from within the health care system, no single sector or system has the capacity — or responsibility — on its own to address all aspects of healthy development for young children. Robust cross-sector investments are needed to connect the worlds of primary health care, early learning, and public health.

“For 35 years, Reach Out and Read has been a beacon of family support through well child health care, nurturing caregiver-child bonds and early literacy through the life-changing impact of children’s books and shared reading. We want to use this expertise to champion policies that support the development, education, and health of young children and the reduction of structural inequities.”

— Dr. Trude Haecker, Chair, National Board of Directors