Smart Start and Reach Out And Read Partnering to Reach More NC Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  –  February 2, 2018 | Press Contact: Heather Strickland – 919-821-9564

Early Literacy Program to be a Part of Well-Child Visits

RALEIGH, NC— Eighteen Smart Start local partnerships received funding to provide or expand Reach Out and Read (ROR) in their communities. This was part of the recent award of a total of over $460,000 to Smart Start partnerships across North Carolina.

ROR is a national program that supports doctors in their efforts to support parents and caregivers in healthy bonding and brain development as they “prescribe” reading together daily with young children and families during well-child visits. Smart Start local partnerships will work with medical practices to promote early brain development, literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms by giving books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. This includes book sharing, free books for children to keep, and waiting rooms full of books.

“When a parent and child spend time together reading books, even in the earliest years, that child develops a love of reading and strong connection with their parent,” stated Cindy Watkins, President of the NC Partnership for Children/Smart Start. “These early experiences build a strong foundation for learning and lifelong success.”

In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, Smart Start served over 70,000 children through ROR. In addition, families participating in ROR were 84 percent more likely to be using one or more recommended reading strategies compared to those new to the program. These new funds will expand the program in many communities with awards going to 18 Smart Start local partnerships to serve 35 pediatric clinics.

“Early literacy skills are critical for the development of healthy minds and bodies, and enable our children to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills,” stated Callee Boulware, Executive Director of Reach Out and Read Carolinas. “We are thrilled to have the state-wide partnership with Smart Start that supports strong, high-quality Reach Out and Read programs in communities, better supporting children and families across the state.”

The following Smart Start partnerships received awards for ROR to be expanded in their communities and includes funding for books:

  • Albemarle Alliance for Children and Families
  • Anson County Partnership for Children
  • Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children
  • Buncombe Partnership for Children
  • Carteret County Partnership for Children
  • Craven Smart Start
  • Smart Start of Davie County
  • Down East Partnership for Children
  • Durham’s Partnership for Children
  • Franklin-Granville-Vance Partnership for Children
  • Smart Start Partnership for Children (Henderson County)
  • Partnership for Children of Johnston County
  • Lee County Partnership for Children
  • Madison County Partnership for Children
  • Smart Start of Pender County
  • Region A Partnership for Children
  • Stanly County Partnership for Children
  • Smart Start Transylvania County


Smart Start is a network of 75 nonprofit local partnerships that serve all 100 North Carolina counties. This network is led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) that ensures fiscal and programmatic accountability, and coordinates the statewide network to create better outcomes for children and families.

Reach Out and Read Carolinas is an evidence-based intervention for children birth to 5 that makes early literacy a standard part of primary care with a special emphasis on children who grow up in low-income communities. The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the program has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention. Reach Out and Read Carolinas serves over 305,000 children at over 400 clinical locations.


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