Chelsea Clinton, Mayor Tom Barrett, the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative, and the City of Milwaukee launch first-ever “Family Read, Play & Learn” space with Milwaukee Family Court; announce new commitment to promote across the United States through National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Chelsea Clinton toured the new “Family Read, Play & Learn” space; visited a local Reach Out and Read Wisconsin clinic; participated in a listening session with city leaders and stakeholders; and met with community partners and families to promote early literacy
Milwaukee, Wis. – Today, Chelsea Clinton and Too Small to Fail, in partnership with the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Early Childhood Initiatives (OECI) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), unveiled a new “Family Read, Play & Learn” space in the children’s court waiting area at the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center in Milwaukee as part of Too Small’s “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” national campaign. Too Small is the early childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation.
The creation of this child-friendly space will be the first of its kind Too Small to Fail has created in a family and children’s court in Wisconsin and in the country. “Family, Read, Play & Learn” spaces for children in family courts offer a welcoming, playful environment which includes comfortable furniture, a bookcase with bilingual (English/Spanish) books, educational toys, and feature posters sharing messages promoting healthy early social-emotional development. The goal of these spaces is to increase access to high-quality learning environments to encourage meaningful parent-child interactions, as well as to share messages about the importance of engaging in literacy-rich activities like talking, reading, and singing with children from birth to prepare them for lifelong success.
“I believe a fundamental test for our country is whether or not we can make opportunity available equally to all kids and families, so they have the ability to access not only the care of pediatricians but also books and positive stimulation for your heart and your mind wherever you may be,” said Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation. “We’re so humble and grateful to be in partnership with the City of Milwaukee, Chief Judge Maxine Aldridge White, and Dea White from the Office of Early Childhood Initiatives, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, because this is the first ‘Family Read, Play & Learn’ space of its kind in a family court, but it certainly shouldn’t be the last here in Wisconsin or in the country.”
The first “Family Read, Play & Learn” space in Milwaukee opened in September 2019 at local laundromat Riverworks Coin Laundry as part of a partnership between Too Small to Fail, OECI, and the LaundryCares Foundation. Five new “Family Read, Play & Learn” spaces are scheduled to open in Milwaukee Promise Zones by the end of March with more to come.
This site at the Children’s Court Center is the first “Family Read, Play & Learn” space Too Small to Fail is unveiling in a juvenile and family court in the country.
The OECI, in partnership with Too Small to Fail, will also incorporate “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” messaging and posters in correctional facilities, shelters, clinics, community centers, and through the Department of Transit, to engage the entire community by providing literacy-rich tools and resources.
In an effort to expand the “Family Read, Play & Learn” spaces into other courts across the nation, Too Small to Fail and NCJFCJ also announced that they will be partnering to promote children’s early brain and language development through juvenile and family courts across the country. The Honorable Ramona A. Gonzalez, president of the NCJFCJ, shared that NCJFCJ will raise awareness about these literacy-rich play spaces to the 30,000 professionals they serve in the juvenile and family justice system. They will also partner with Too Small to Fail to create new early learning materials for juvenile and family court judges to share with families, engage NCJFCJ members in educational programs, provide technical assistance, and promote new research to help evaluate their efforts.
“We want to be where mothers, fathers, and kids are, and we couldn’t do that without the support of the Clinton Foundation,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, City of Milwaukee.
“Our job is getting people to understand how important it is to engage children early on, because babies are born with the entire world open to them, and then the barriers can go up,” said Honorable Ramona A. Gonzalez, president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. “This program is a way to change that because children are worth it, and we are delighted to partner with the Clinton Foundation on this work.”
“Family Read, Play & Learn” spaces in laundromats were evaluated by New York University. In laundromats with these spaces, findings showed that children were observed engaging in 30 times more literacy activities compared to the laundromats that did not have these areas. Full evaluation findings can be found here.
In addition, 25,000 copies of Too Small to Fail’s bilingual book for families called, “DJ’s Busy Day” were donated to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin, which will be distributed to Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, and other participating clinics throughout the state. This book distribution celebrates the sixth year of a national partnership between Reach Out and Read, Too Small to Fail, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to promote the importance of talking, reading, and singing with children from birth through primary pediatric care settings — which was originally announced in conjunction with the release of the AAP’s early literacy policy statement in 2014.
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin, the early literacy initiative of Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and the state affiliate of the national organization, provides training, resources, quality assurance, and book support to more than 260 participating Wisconsin pediatric primary care clinics in order to foster healthy development during the critical early years of a child’s life.
“The work of child health and well-being is that of communities, and today, as we watched young children engage with the adults around them, we saw that brain circuitry truly builds in the early days of life,” said Dipesh Navasria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, founder of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. “The science is really clear – yes, we should be talking, reading and singing to children whenever and wherever we can – it matters.”
The expansion of these efforts in Milwaukee is part of Too Small to Fail’s ongoing work to promote early learning and literacy in cities throughout the country by meeting families where they are in everyday places such as bus stops, grocery stores, laundromats, hospitals, and playgrounds, and providing parents and caregivers with the opportunities, tools, and resources needed to support their child’s early brain and language development.
About City of Milwaukee’s Office of Early Childhood Initiatives (OECI)
The City of Milwaukee’s Office of Early Childhood Initiatives (OECI) works collaboratively to ensure that all Milwaukee children ages zero to three years old have access to high-quality learning environments and are prepared for academic, social-emotional, and lifelong success.
About National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ)
Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nevada-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, is the nation’s oldest judicial membership organization and focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the field of juvenile and family justice, the 2,000-member organization is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide. Learn more at https://www.ncjfcj.org/.
About Reach Out and Read Wisconsin
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is the early literacy initiative of Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and the state affiliate of the national organization. Reach Out and Read Wisconsin provides training, resources, quality assurance and book support to the more than 260 participating Wisconsin clinics. Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020 and serves more than 148,000 of the state’s youngest children each year. One in three children younger than age 6 receive their primary care at a Reach Out and Read Wisconsin clinic. Learn more at https://www.chawisconsin.org/initiatives/early-literacy/; follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Too Small to Fail
Too Small to Fail, the early childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation, is leading a public awareness and action campaign to promote the importance of early brain and language development and to empower parents with tools to talk, read, and sing with their young children from birth. Today, almost 60 percent of children in the United States start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language and reading skills. Through partnerships with pediatricians, hospitals, faith-based leaders, community-based organizations, businesses, entertainment industry leaders, and others, Too Small to Fail is meeting parents where they are to help them prepare their children for success in school and beyond. Whether at the pediatrician’s office or the playground, Too Small to Fail aims to make small moments big by creating opportunities for meaningful interactions anytime, anywhere. Learn more at http://toosmall.org.
About Reach Out and Read National Center
Founded in 1989 at Boston Medical Center, Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based, national, nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.
Reach Out and Read’s 34,000 pediatric clinicians serve 4.8 million children and shared 7.4 million books at 6,400 clinic locations around the country during the last year. Learn more at www.reachoutandread.org; follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.