Since 1999, the Read to the Children (RTC) program, a collaboration between the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Department of Corrections, has allowed offenders in Colorado’s state prisons to send young family members a book accompanied by a recording of the offender reading it. In the past year, around 1,900 offenders and 3,200 children participated in RTC. The most recent Fast Facts report presents survey results from 253 caregivers and 366 offenders who participated in RTC between 2013 and 2016.
The survey results from offender participants reveal the position that the RTC program holds in the lives of incarcerated parents and relatives. About 9 in 10 (91%) respondents said that RTC is “very important” to them, and nearly all (99%) said that they would recommend the program to fellow offenders. The importance of teaching children to read well is a primary concern of RTC offender respondents – more than 3 in 5 (64%) selected “helping their child learn to read better” as one of the reasons they were participating. In the caregiver surveys, respondents affirmed the positive effect of RTC on their child’s reading. More than 4 in 5 caregivers said that both the time their child spends reading (82%) and their child’s enjoyment of reading (85%) increased after participating in RTC.
RTC also gives families an opportunity to stay connected while a parent or relative is incarcerated. More than 4 in 5 (84%) offenders said that they are participating in RTC to improve their relationship with their child. About 9 in 10 (92%) said that RTC is a “very helpful” way to connect with their child, indicating that it may have some impact on helping offenders maintain family connections. Caregivers also noted the influence of RTC on maintaining a relationship with their incarcerated family members. More than 4 in 5 (84%) said that participating in RTC has improved their child’s relationship with the offender, and three-quarters (76%) of caregivers said that RTC has improved their own relationship with the offender.
The full Fast Facts report can be found here.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.