Kindergarten readiness and early childhood education continue to be important focuses of United Way. United Way of Champaign County has implemented a program where doctors and health care professionals prescribe books to children under age five when they visit a healthcare facility doctor’s office for checkups. This prescription program promotes early literacy as well as school readiness. Carle Hospital, Frances Nelson Health Center, Frances Nelson Dental Clinic and CU Public Health are all invested in and offering Prescription to Read.
A 2011-2012 study by the National Survey of Children’s Health states that "only 60% of children from families with incomes 400% above the poverty level and 34% of children from families below 100% of the poverty level are read to daily." The first five years of life are critical to learning. Research shows that the more words children hear directed at them by parents, the more they learn. If children miss the opportunity to acquire foundational language skills, they face the potential to struggle with literacy as soon as they arrive in school. With the help of Prescription to Read, doctors can help children overcome reading challenges by providing their parents and/or caregivers with tools for literary success. During a visit a health care professional will prescribe a family a new or gently used children’s book as well as discuss the importance of early literacy that will, in turn, help improve their children's language skills, interest in reading, and create a nurturing relationship between adult and child.
2014 Book Drive
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new policy recommending that pediatric providers advise parents of young children of the tangible benefits of reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books. Throughout the month of September and October, the United Way’s Emerging Community Leaders program will be holding a book drive to ensure that participating medical facilities will have the necessary books to prescribe. The American Academy of Pediatrics also states that “making books part of preventive visits allows pediatric providers to observe fine motor skills, language, literacy and parent-child interaction. Incorporating books into a visit also enables health care professionals to model book interaction with patients." As the program continues to grow, through efforts like the book drive, medical professionals will have the resources available to share books and informational materials with children and their families. The Emerging Community Leaders group is currently accepting monetary donations to purchase new books as well as collecting new and gently used books from the community.
To donate go to : http://supporters.firstbook.org/goto/prescriptiontoread