Literacy helps prevent at-risk behavior among young people.

That’s ample cause for policymakers to do their best to support ways to improve students' reading skills.

Consider the Kansas Reading Roadmap one step in the right direction.

KRR was designed to target resources where needed in Kansas communities. In Garden City USD 457, results of the enhanced literacy effort have been encouraging.

Educators reported K-4 students in five local elementary schools with the summertime KRR program making notable progress.

The KRR initiative assists students who qualify based on reading assessment test scores. The program provides additional reading practice for students in their specific areas of deficiency, and is aligned with the school district’s instructional curriculum so tutors can tailor additional instruction and practice time to student needs.

Elementary school is a critical time as students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.

Third-graders who fall behind in reading are far less likely to graduate from high school, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy devoted to helping children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes.

Improving children’s reading skills is a proven way to break the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty. The challenges of poverty, combined with a significant number of students learning English, make the job of educating children even more difficult in diverse USD 457.

And that’s why the funding approach for KRR was so questionable.

When Gov. Sam Brownback spearheaded the KRR project, he made the mistake of reallocating $9 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds to pay for the new reading initiatives.

KRR showed promise, but at an unwelcome cost in diverting direct aid for poor families to a long-term strategy to help youngsters avoid poverty.

As more prudent state lawmakers continue working to right the state’s financial ship — which the governor did his best to capsize with failed economic policies — they’ll need to identify more sensible ways to fund effective literacy programs, KRR included.

Strategies that lead to students' future success make sense so long as they don’t strip away support for vulnerable families that need it now.