Volunteer State Health Plan Completes $900,000 Commitment to Early Childhood Literacy in Shelby County

Thursday, December 09, 2010 | 9:33am
Final Installment of a Three-Year $900,000 Commitment made today to Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation
MEMPHIS- Volunteer State Health Plan and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation presented Governor Phil Bredesen with the final installment of their $900,000 commitment to the Governor’s Books From Birth Foundation today (Thursday) in Memphis. The funds will be used for Shelby County Books from Birth to deliver free, age appropriate books to children under the age of five enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  
VolunteerState Health Plan and the BlueCross BlueShield Health Foundation made a commitment two years ago to support the Governor’s Books From Birth Foundation and wanted to fulfill their commitment before Gov. Bredesen leaves office in January 2011. The event was held at the College ParkRenaissanceCenter - Head Start with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee CEO Vicky Gregg on hand to make the presentation. 
According to Vicky Gregg, CEO of BlueCross, reading skills share an important tie-in to health. “Studies have shown that increasing education typically lowers a person’s risk for illness and disease,” Gregg noted. “Health literacy, too, is critical to achieve because patients who struggle to read find it difficult to work their way through the health care system. The result is often a negative effect on the patient’s overall health.”
“We are very excited about the final installment towards this wonderful program,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “This has truly been one of the state’s most rewarding partnerships, because of the children that we have been able to reach through partners like Volunteer State Health Plan and the BlueCross BlueShield Health Foundation as well as the many parents who have signed up to participate.”
Shelby County Books from Birth is working  in lockstep with Volunteer State Health Plan, making every effort to enroll in the Imagination Library each newborn covered by the Volunteer State Health Plan, TennCare MCO. 
VolunteerState Health Plan’s $900,000 commitment to the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation on behalf of Shelby County Books from Birth was approximated according to the number of Memphis-area children born each year who are insured by Volunteer State Health Plan. A $70 contribution per newborn will cover the county’s half-share of the cost for a child’s Imagination Library enrollment for the full five years of program eligibility – representing a personal home library of up to 60 books prior to entering kindergarten. 
The mission of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation is to manage the ongoing, statewide implementation of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library assists all Tennessee preschool children in developing their vocabulary, school readiness, and love of learning and reading by ensuring that free, high quality, age-appropriate books are mailed once a month directly to their homes from birth until age five regardless of income. The Imagination Library program in ShelbyCounty is called Shelby County Books from Birth. 
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was created in 1996 by Dolly Parton as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn. and was later expanded to the entire state with the creation of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. Just $24 annually provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. This cost is split evenly between a non-profit sponsoring organization in every Tennessee county, and a state budgetary allocation administered by the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation.
Currently, 57 percent of all Tennessee children birth to five are registered in the Imagination Library and are receiving free books in the mail. More than 188,000 Tennessee five-year-olds have already “graduated” from the program. The statewide program has helped deliver more than 11 million books to Tennessee children since the creation of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation in 2004. In West Tennessee, more than 1.4 million books have been distributed to children in the program.
About the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation: The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation® was established in 2004 by Gov. Phil Bredesen and currently serves Imagination Library organizers in all 95 counties by providing fund-raising, public relations, and other support. To learn how to support your county’s Imagination Library program, or for information on how to register a child, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or call toll-free, 1-877-99-BOOKS.
About Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.: The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. (THF) was established in December, 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. THF awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, THF is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.
About VolunteerState Health Plan (VSHP): VolunteerState Health Plan is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Founded in 1993, the Chattanooga-based company focuses on managing care and providing quality health care products, services, and information for government programs. VSHP currently serves approximately 500,000 members. 

Books from Birth