2013-03-07 14:33:05 -
TAMPA, Fla. (March 7, 2013) - WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) is teaming
up with the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy in support of early
childhood literacy by providing books and expanded reading opportunities to
Georgia children from birth to age five.
Reading aloud to children has been called the single most important activity for
building the knowledge required for success in reading, according to the
National Institute of Literacy. Increasing the availability of books for
Georgia's youngest children is critical, as research shows that children without
access to books, and who are not read to during their earliest years, fall
behind their peers from a developmental standpoint. Nationally, two-thirds of
students are not reading on grade level by fourth grade, the earliest year of
testing in the National Assessment
of Educational Progress. For children from
low-wage families, the proportion rises to four-fifths.
As part of the program, WellCare is underwriting the cost of the Prescription to
Read initiative, which allows pediatricians in WellCare's provider network to
provide free books to their patients, with a special emphasis on getting books
into the hands of children up to age five. WellCare associates will also host
childhood reading events with Head Start and Family Connections groups across
the state. WellCare providers and associates will also be able to "adopt" a
child and supply them with a year's worth of books.
"WellCare knows that the link between literacy and health literacy can make a
difference not only in health outcomes but in overall well-being," said David
McNichols, WellCare of Georgia President. "We are pleased to be able to support
the efforts of the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy to bring children's
books into the homes of Georgia families."
"Ferst strives to improve early childhood learning by providing books to
Georgia's children with a reading guide for parents," said Margaret Hylton
Jones, Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy Board President. "Creating a
literacy environment in the home sets the stage for academic achievement and may
be the best form of economic development. There can be no greater endeavor than
that which optimizes the chances for a child's success, and we are excited about
this wonderful opportunity to partner with WellCare of Georgia to further our
About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
WellCare Health Plans, Inc. provides managed care services targeted to
government-sponsored health care programs, focusing on Medicaid and Medicare.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare offers a variety of health plans for
families, children, and the aged, blind, and disabled, as well as prescription
drug plans. The company serves approximately 2.7 million members nationwide as
of Dec. 31, 2012. For more information about WellCare, please visit the
company's website at www.wellcare.com.
About Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy
The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy began mailing books to children in
April 2000 in Morgan County. Since that time, the foundation has mailed 3.4
million books to children across Georgia. Morgan County, the earliest community
to initiate the program, tracked the result of their kindergarten readiness test
results and noted that since collaborating with Ferst Foundation, we have seen
our kindergarten readiness test scores go have gone from 46% ready to 90% ready!
In 2011, 99.6% of Morgan County 8th graders met or exceeded state standards on
the reading portion of the CRCT. This class included students who were the first
to receive books from FFCL and 10 years later scored above state average in all
subjects on the CRCT. Currently, FFCL serves almost 30,000 of Georgia's more
than 680,000 children under the age of five.
The work of the foundation not only promotes childhood literacy and academic
success, but also sets the stage for an educated, productive and competitive
work force. For more information about Ferst Foundation, please visit our
website at www.ferstfoundation.org or call 888-565-0177.
WellCare Partners With Ferst Foundation in Georgia:
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Source: WellCare Health Plans, Inc. via Thomson Reuters ONE