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Reach Out and Read

Date Submitted: 09/08/2021

Contact Information: 

Lori Lake Executive Director, Reach Out and Read OK


Reach Out and Read 

1000 NW 39th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73118

Rating Category: Well-Supported by Research

Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning 

Focus Population: Children, Caregivers, Guardians, Medical providers, Parents 

Goals and Outcomes:

The goal of this project is to ensure the healthy development and social emotional well-being of young children ages 5 and below throughout Oklahoma through the promotion of the Reach Out and Read (ROR) intervention, designed to foster intentional skill-building in parents, resilience in families, and positive bonding between children and families, integrated into pediatric primary care.

The outcomes are as follows:

  1. Through partnership with Reach Out and Read, pediatric primary care providers gain a framework for integrating promotion of early literacy and relational health into pediatric care, awareness of the developmental importance of reading and relationships, clinical skills to engage with diverse families, and systems that support comprehensive care.

  2. Parents/caregivers are motivated to prioritize reading and other language-rich interactions with their young children as part of their daily routines starting from birth, knowledge of developmentally appropriate and accessible ways to engage with their child, and access to diverse, high-quality books.

  3. As a result of increased engagement with their parents/caregivers, children experience nurturing foundational relationships that support improved early childhood social emotional development and long-term health and well-being.

  4. Expansion of the Reach Out and Read intervention provides families throughout Oklahoma with protective factors to mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Brief Summary of target population and issues/challenges:

According to America's Health Rankings analysis, Oklahoma is the least-healthy state for ACEs, which include economic hardship, parental separation, living with an alcoholic, living with someone who is mentally ill, neighborhood and domestic violence, death of parent, and being treated unfairly due to race. Early experiences have a broad and profound impact on an individual’s development and subsequent emotional, cognitive, social, and biological functioning, and consequently, ACEs result in poor student achievement, discipline issues, and lower high school graduation rates.

But the presence of protective factors, especially safe, stable, and nurturing relationships, helps mitigate the consequences of ACEs. Families influence the promotion of protective factors, and our ROR providers teach parents/caregivers about how close, loving relationships support their child’s ability to thrive. Reading, singing, and spending time together is a way to foster fun, purpose, social connection, and the development of individual competencies (problem solving skills, self–regulation, agency). Protective factors help a child feel safe more quickly after experiencing the toxic stress of ACEs and help to neutralize the physical changes that naturally occur during and after trauma. If the child’s protective networks are in good working order, development is strong even in the face of severe adversity.

ROR has unparalleled access to young children from birth through age 5 through its integration into pediatric primary care. In Oklahoma, we serve more than 64,000 children. Most of the children we serve come from low-income families, with 70% relying on public health insurance or uninsured.

Building upon the unique relationship between parents and doctors, we employ a 3-part model to promote early literacy, empathy, and parental engagement during regular pediatric visits:

  • During well-child visits, medical providers prescribe reading by modeling read aloud strategies while teaching and training the parent about how to share books and why it is important, emphasizing how reading brings families together, assists in building healthy bonds, and establishes routines. 

  • Starting at infancy and continuing through the 5-year visit, medical providers give children new developmentally appropriate books. 

  • Following their medical provider’s advice, parents read aloud with their children more often and engage them in literacy-rich activities, far extending our program's impact.

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