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What happens during the first few years sets the stage for the rest of a child’s life

Nurturing experiences with a loving parent or caregiver during the first few years of life helps children’s social-emotional development — an aspect of brain development that helps children learn, form stable relationships, manage their feelings, and build resilience.

We know the more loving support a child receives from their parent or caregiver, the better developed their social-emotional skills, even in challenging, high-stress environments. One of the best ways to engage with young children is through looking at books together. Even the youngest baby loves to be held close and hear the voice of mom or dad as they read a book aloud.

Primary care providers are a critical gateway to address deeper, systemic issues in their communities, including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The stress associated with ACEs has immediate and long-lasting effects, and has been associated with later-in-life risk taking and unhealthy lifestyles, as well as disease. 

Given the frequency of contact providers have with their patients and families, and the impact that ACEs have on children’s health, the medical home is an ideal point of access for identifying, managing, and mitigating the effects of adverse experiences in early childhood. Providers use universal primary prevention strategies, like Reach Out and Read, to provide surveillance and early intervention for environmental stressors, and promote parenting and social-emotional skills. Providers also collaborate with and advocate for services that support parents.

Reach Out and Read is an evidenced-based intervention integrated into medical clinics throughout North Carolina, designed to foster intentional skill-building in parents, resilience in families, and positive bonding between children and families.

Literacy is a critical skill and early childhood is the critical stage for equipping children for a lifetime of success.

Listen to our podcast, Building Resilience in Children and Families, as our guests, Perri Klass, MD; Lochrane Grant, MD; and, Kristin Cooper, First Lady of North Carolina discuss the importance of incorporating Reach Out and Read as a strategy to help families buffer toxic stress and mitigate the effects of ACEs.

Teandra Ramos-Hardy

Teandra Ramos-Hardy is the Director of Medical Engagement for Reach Out and Read Carolinas. She attended California State University – Stanislaus where she received a Master’s in Social Work, and the University of North Carolina – Greensboro where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Ramos-Hardy is originally from Trenton, New Jersey and currently resides with her husband and two sons, ages 12 and 5, in eastern North Carolina.  She has worked in many areas of healthcare including behavioral, medical, and dental. She has also worked in non-profit, education and social service. In 2015, after ten years in healthcare management, Ramos-Hardy transitioned back into non-profit and started her career with Reach Out and Read Carolinas.