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Downtown Family Residency Practice “Prescribes” Reach Out and Read Program

Penn State Health St. Joseph Downtown Family Residency launched the Reach Out and Read Program on September 6, 2018, championed by Dr. Christina Raguckas. The Reach Out and Read Program is a partnership with healthcare providers to promote literacy to pediatric patients. Exposure to reading in the first six years is critically important because this is when 95% of brain development occurs. Fifty percent of children living in poverty will arrive to kindergarten with below grade level reading skills, which can limit their success in school and lessen their likelihood of graduating. 91% of children do receive routine pediatric care at least yearly; making pediatric healthcare practices a great location to connect with future readers.

When a child arrives for a wellness visit, he/she is presented with a new, age and language appropriate book. The Residency Provider introduces the book to both the patient and parent, explaining the importance of literacy and reading aloud to young children. Patients and parents are excited to receive a new book and the Residency Providers are happy to promote such an important foundation of learning to the families.

The Family Residency Practice did not want the literacy initiative to just stop there. During many visits, siblings are also present. The practice has been able to offer books provided by the generosity of The St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation to siblings and older readers. Practice staff have also taken the time promoting activities for parents and children at the Reading Library; providing calendars of free activities to further promote literacy and family togetherness to their patients.

In the short time since the program’s inception, the Family Residency Practice has shared Reach Out and Read with 63 pediatric patients and their families. Each day – through the connections being made – great stories are beginning at the Downtown Campus.

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