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 is based in Wichita, but statewide in its focus. With a mission to improve the health of all Kansans, KHF envisions a culture in which every Kansan can make healthy choices where they live, work and play. To achieve this, KHF focuses its work in four impact areas: access to affordable health care, healthy behaviors, civic and community engagement and educational attainment. During its history, KHF has provided more than $500 million in grants to Kansas communities and organizations, and looks forward to working toward its mission and vision for many years to come.
Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.