Counties Urge Increased Support for Local Young Readers Programs

On February 8, 2023, Associate Policy Director Brianna January submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 0243 – Baltimore City Young Readers Program – Expansion and Alterations (Young Readers Program Expansion Act of 2023).

HB 243 would expand the extant Baltimore City Young Readers Program into a statewide program housed in the Maryland State Library Agency. The bill would also require program grant applicants to prioritize the distribution of books to children in low-income zip codes within the applicants area of service. From fostering lasting values of intellectual engagement to simply preparing kids to be successful in school, counties stand eager and ready to ensure that Maryland’s children reap the myriad benefits of deepened literacy. Accordingly, MACo urges the Ways and Means Committee to issue a favorable report for HB 243.

From the MACo Testimony:

HB 243 would provide greater flexibility to these reading programs, altering the current requirement for books to be mailed to simply being “distributed,” so that families can also access them at libraries, schools, community centers, and other places. Furthermore, the bill would dedicate additional annual state funding to the program – from $200,000 to $500,000. Doing so will not only help new counties establish programs but would also allow existing programs to serve more Maryland children. Counties are excited to see where the program takes Maryland students and HB 243 would further support those efforts.

The bill’s cross-file, SB 300, will be heard in the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee on February 22.

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