NC Gets Funding To Expand National Early Literacy Program

NC Gets Funding To Expand National Early Literacy Program

1:36pm Dec 23, 2020
As part of the Reach Out and Read program, children and families will receive a “prescription for reading” with new, developmentally appropriate books to help grow children’s home libraries. KERI BROWN/WFDD

A national program that works to improve literacy development for young children is expanding across the state.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently received approval to use federal matching funds to grow the Reach Out and Read initiative. It will focus on low-income children that would be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP.

Here’s how it works: Doctors prescribe a book during child wellness visits. The goal is to strengthen relationships with providers and encourage parents and caregivers to read to their children for bonding and brain development. 

It also helps kids build their own home libraries. Researchers say the period from birth to age eight is critical for a child's health, development, and learning.

Some of the funding will also be used to help providers perform research and further training opportunities.

The approval allows state officials to access up to more than $3 million in federal matching funds for the next two years to expand the program to all counties.

NCDHHS says the partnership with Reach Out and Read is one of the first in the country among Medicaid programs.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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