HealthPartners is expanding a national program in its primary care clinics to help young children develop the skills to learn to read by age five. The Reach Out and Read program is currently offered to nearly 9,000 children at well-child pediatric visits in 14 HealthPartners Clinics. In 2015 it will benefit nearly 30,000 children who receive care at nearly 50 clinics at HealthPartners, Park Nicollet and Stillwater Medical Group in Minnesota and four clinics at Amery Hospital & Clinic.
Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national program that builds on the special relationship between parents and their pediatrician to help brain development by encouraging parents to read to their children beginning at six months. At every well-child visit, the pediatrician or other caregiver gives each child a book and talks with parents about the importance of reading.
The program was developed based on research that shows that children who learn to read at grade level by third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and more likely to have better health as adults. According to Reach Out and Read, parents who participate in the program are four times more likely to read aloud to their children compared to parents who do not. On vocabulary tests, pre-school children in Reach Out and Read programs score three to six months ahead of children who did not participate.
The Reach Out and Read program is part of HealthPartners Children’s Health Initiative to improve the health of children from pregnancy to age five.
“A healthy start is the foundation for health throughout life. That’s why we are working with our community partners to help ensure that every child and family has support and encouragement to be ready to read and start school ready to succeed,” said Mary Brainerd, HealthPartners President and CEO.
HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. For more information, visit healthpartners.com.