According to Voices for Alabama’s Children Kid’s Count Data 2015, families in Alabama continue to struggle to make ends meet. Since 2000, the poverty rate has grown from 16.1 percent to 18.6 percent. But for children the story is even more grim ~ the poverty rate for children rose to nearly 27 percent with half living in extreme poverty.
Abby Allen, MD, serves as the medical director of the Reach Out and Read-Alabama program at Pediatrics West-McAdory, which is one of fourteen Children’s of Alabama pediatric practices throughout the state. Sixty-five percent of her patients receive their healthcare through Medicaid. Her video underscores the importance of the program in providing books to those children and families that may not be able to afford or have access to this much needed resource for brain development in young children.
In the April issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement, Poverty and Child Health in the United States by the Council on Community Pediatrics, emphasizing the significance of our program to families in poverty.
“In a medical home adapted to the needs of families in poverty, parents have the opportunities and resources to promote resilience in their young children, giving them the capacity to adapt to adversity and buffering the effects of stress. Healthy Steps for Young Children, a manual-based primary care strategy, and programs such as Incredible Years and Triple P, which integrate behavioral health into primary care, have been shown to promote responsive parenting and address common behavioral and developmental concerns.69–73 Early literacy promotion in the medical home with programs such as Reach Out and Read advances reading readiness by approximately 6 months when compared with controls.74 In addition, parents in Reach Out and Read practices are 4 times as likely to read to their children and more likely to spend time with their children in interactive play75 than are families who are not in Reach Out and Read. Another program, the Video Interaction Project (VIP), combines early literacy with guided parent-child interactions that support family relationships and social development of children.70”
Reach Out and Read-Alabama serves over one hundred thousand children and their families throughout the state each year, many of them living in poverty.
Dr. Abby Allen read to the children at Primrose School at Liberty Park during Read Across America Day. The school donated over 500 books to her Reach Out and Read program site.