Posted Date: 02/11/2021
The City-County Cowley Health Department was accepted into the Turn a Page. Touch a Mind.® (TAP-TAM) program. The TAP-TAM program provides a free book to children at each of their well child visits from ages six months to five years of age.
The USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative partnered with Health Department staff, Marsha Donals and Josephine Tijerina, to apply for the program. In the past two years, the Health Department has completed approximately 1,140 well child visits. They are excited to offer books and literacy resources to families with this new program. They also plan to offer bi-lingual books to families that speak Spanish.
The USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative was made aware of the TAP-TAM program by local pediatrician, Dr. Peters. His practice has participated in TAP-TAM for seven years and annually gives away approximately 350-400 books.
“By providing children with a book during a well child visit, I am able to observe the child’s response to the book and quickly assess developmental milestones,” said Peters. “I’m also able to encourage the importance of reading aloud to a child — just 15 minutes a day of reading aloud to a child is linked to many cognitive and developmental gains.”
The TAP-TAM program is funded by the Kansas Pediatric Foundation. The program operates at 135 sites in 67 Kansas counties and boasts over 700 participating physicians and medical providers. Since 2004, TAP-TAM has given over 1,100,000 books away to Kansas kids.
The USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative hopes to eventually expand this effort to other medical providers in the community. The TAP-TAM program is a part of the group’s larger action to create “Literacy-Rich Waiting Rooms” filled with posters, books, milestone apps and resources to help families increase their child’s learning beginning at birth.
“We all know by now how much learning takes place during the earliest years of a child’s development. Helping caregivers bond with their child through reading and talking aloud is an easy way to increase learning,” USD 470 Early Literacy Coordinator, Lindsay Wilke said. “The TAP-TAM program builds families’ home libraries and allows healthcare professionals to encourage literacy habits and practices as a part of overall health.”
The Early Literacy Initiative is funded by the Kansas Health Foundation to increase literacy in children ages 0 through third grade within the community. The Kansas Health Foundation is a philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans. For more information about the Kansas Health Foundation, visit www.kansashealth.org. Caregivers interested in literacy development resources can visit usd470.com/earlyliteracy to learn about other opportunities.