Yesterday, Rep. Charlie Bass visited a literacy program at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth that he voted to defund. Reach Out and Read is a national, nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy by providing books to children and advice to parents during doctors’ visits. Last year, the program gave out books to 20,000 New Hampshire children at 40 health care facilities around the state.
Dr. Suzanne Boulter, an adjunct faculty member at Dartmouth Medical School and medical director for the state’s Reach Out and Read Program, said she was devastated when she learned of the House vote to eliminate the program’s federal funding.
The funding pays for one-fourth of the cost of running local programs, Boulter said, and goes toward the purchase price of books. The local programs have to raise the rest of the money through grants and donations.
She added that, while the Concord program will most likely be able to make up the loss of the federal funding, other programs in the state may have to fold.
She said many programs receive other grants and donations based on a federal match. Without that match, Boulter said, she is not sure the private donors will continue to give.
Bass defended his vote to eliminate federal funding for Reach Out and Read.
“Just because I voted to reduce funding for this program doesn’t mean I don’t support the ideas underlying it,” he said.