WICHITA, Kan. (Feb. 19, 2019) – The Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) launched Can’t Wait to Read, a statewide campaign showing parents and caregivers why their kids need to experience reading, starting when they are just a few months old. The campaign also elevates the abundant reading resources available across the state and lets parents know they have what it takes to give their kids a successful future.
“Reading skills impact more than report cards. Grade-level reading is a key indicator of whether children will go down a road to success or face a lifetime of challenges,” said Steve Coen, KHF president and CEO. “Today’s families are busier than ever and competing priorities make it difficult to devote time to reading. But, the window for early learning closes quickly and if children don’t start building their reading skills before they enter school, it could be too late.”
KHF has identified educational attainment as a key indicator to health outcomes for the people of Kansas. Lower education levels result in lower socioeconomic status, which means increased levels of tobacco use, higher rates of obesity and a lack of health insurance coverage. In addition to the impact on health, children’s literacy rates affect the economic viability of Kansas communities.
The Research Shows a Need for Urgent Parent and Caregiver Attention
“There’s a direct connection between early reading and graduation rates which leads to a prepared workforce, and in turn, the economic success of Kansas in the 21st century,” said C. Patrick Woods, board member for KHF and the Kansas Association of School Boards. “But this work can’t start in the third grade. Imagine what could be if we each stepped up – as early as we can – to spend time reading with our children. The ripple effect would positively impact our students, our workforce and our state.”
Arming Parents and Caregivers with Easy, Doable Tips for Everyday Use
The campaign will run into the summer months to combat the “summer slide” – when kids’ reading abilities decline once school is out of session.
To kick off the campaign, Kansas parents will see:
The campaign will also bring attention to the abundant literacy organizations, resources and tools available to parents across Kansas.
“When we talked with Kansas parents, they told us they’re short on time. They weren’t sure how to fit reading into their already busy parenting routines. But they got excited when we showed them it doesn’t have to be a daunting task,” said Coen. “Through this campaign, we’re equipping them with quick, easy reading tools they can use on the go and at home. With the right resources and information, they can give their little ones a running start – even before they get to school age.”
1 – 2017 NAEP Reading Report Card
2 – ExcelInEd Policy Toolkit 2019
3 – The National Assessment of Adult Literacy
4 – KSDE 2018-2019 Headcount Enrollment (Unaudited) – Public Districts
The Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) is a nonprofit organization based in Wichita but statewide in its focus. At KHF, all our work centers on our mission: to improve the health of all Kansans. As part of a new strategic framework, developed by our staff and board of directors, KHF also strives to accomplish three primary purposes: empower Kansas to lead the nation in health; eliminate the inequities that create health disparities; and, for KHF to become THE model for philanthropic impact.
Learn more about the latest Foundation news, grant opportunities, stories and health articles by signing up for KHF’s e-newsletters. Join today!