St. Mary’s Hospital Partners with United Way to Provide Books and Resources to Babies Born in Dane County
Ensuring children enter kindergarten ready to learn is a key strategy is closing the racial achievement gap in Dane County. Developmental gaps appear in the first 1,000 days of life.
(Madison) A unique partnership between St. Mary’s Hospital, the United Way of Dane County and Meriter-UnityPoint Health will soon be providing books and resources to every baby born in Dane County.
Through the generous support of BMO Harris Bank, Books for Babies kits include a book for the child, tips for parents on how to read and engage with children in their first five years, and a list of Dane County resources and other help available to young families in our community.
“7,000 babies are born in Dane County every year,” Michael Morgan, United Way Born Learning volunteer chair, said. “Of those, 1,000 are born in to poverty. Of the 30,000 children under the age of 5 in Dane County, about 40% aren’t ready when they start kindergarten. Starting early is key, because achievement gaps are evident as early as 18 months. Some children are a full two years behind by their fifth birthday. We need to impact a child’s developing brain before the age of 3.”
In May, United Way announced five key Born Learning strategies to ensure that every child in our community enters school with the skills necessary to learn and succeed. Books for Babies bags support the first strategy to “ensure parents are engaged, informed and supported in how to be their child’s first teacher” and fourth strategy to “partner with healthcare professionals to reach families and have the critical conversations to help get quickly connected with support.”
“Our healthcare professionals want to not only provide excellent health outcomes, but offer new families resources to get them off to the best start,” Robbie Sonnentag, St. Mary’s Hospital Administrative Director of Women and Children Services said. “Providing the Books for Babies bags is an opportunity to collaborate and connect with local partners like United Way so that all of our community’s children get a strong start.”
Books for Babies kits will be provided to families in the birthing centers at both St. Mary’s Hospital and Meriter-UnityPoint Health after the delivery of their baby.
If you’d like to support Books for Babies bags, you can give online at www.unitedwaydanecounty.org or by calling United Way 2-1-1. Each bag is $5, and funding for 2,800 additional baby bags would allow us to reach every newborn through the end of 2015.