WGVU By Leaps & Bounds

Investments in high-quality early childhood care, education, and support programs do more than help children – they also strengthen our workforce and economy. How are communities in West and Southwest Michigan approaching prevention and early intervention in these systems of care? How do the programs benefit children, families, care and education providers, businesses, and taxpayers? Where are the gaps, and how do we fill them? Come along as we take a closer look.

Child care is one of the key essential services needed to get and keep our economy rolling. Families and employers alike are counting on the availability of child care slots to get everyone back to work. However, child care businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, albeit historical sector declines. Camp Fire West Michigan 4C is on-the-ground every day as a long-time “institution of trust” providing “hand to heart business support” to child care providers, helping them save their small business and focus on recovery, sustainability, and expansion.

 Responding to the urgent need for educational resources when school buildings closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, WGVU mobilized to bring our West and Southwest Michigan communities high-quality, free At-Home Learning broadcast programming supported by on-line lessons and resources. WGVU has also organized many additional educational resources and materials for PreK-12 students that educators, parents and students can use to keep learning going while at home. WGVU Education Coordinator, Kristyn Bomberg, is here to give an update.

First Steps Kent
First Steps Kent

The COVID-19 crisis brought much of Michigan to a halt at the same time organizations across Kent County were ramping up their services for families with young children. The pandemic has undoubtedly created challenges, but the vital work hasn’t stopped. An urgent priority is ensuring high-quality child care for the children of essential workers.

MomsBloom
MomsBloom

Nearly 20% of new moms experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder during pregnancy, or up to two years after having a baby. Certain risk factors create a higher likelihood for developing postpartum mental health issues, and untreated, can lead to very serious complications for moms, babies and families. The first five years of a child’s development are critical, but struggles with mental health can affect a mother’s capacity to nurture and meet her child’s needs. And unfortunately, stigma and disparities around health care create barriers to women seeking help.

Spectrum Health
Spectrum Health

Receiving early and regular care throughout pregnancy is incredibly important for both mother and baby, as preterm birth and low birth weight put babies at an increased risk of developing cognitive, emotional, and physical health issues. Babies weighing above 5.5 pounds at birth are considered to be “born healthy.”

High-quality licensed programs help children learn, grow, and creates a strong foundation for children to be successful in school, work, and life while supporting parent participation in the workforce. Children learn so much in their 

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce

Investments in child care accessibility and affordability are investments in both in the current Michigan workforce, and the future workforce. High-qualify affordable child care supports parents in contributing to our community, while providing for their families, and prepares children for school and life success.

ELNC
ELNC

High quality early childhood education experiences have a direct impact on outcomes for young children. Our communities in Michigan are filled with passionate, dedicated and innovative early childhood teachers and programs. Effective leadership, stable and sufficient funding streams, and access to professional development opportunities and resources can create a pipeline of well-trained and invested teachers.

Talent 2025
Talent 2025

In Michigan, 83% of parents with children younger than age 6 report having difficulty finding high quality, affordable child care and more than 4 of every 10 people live in child care deserts - defined as any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 with no or very few licensed child care providers.  Kent County mirrors many other communities with nearly 70% of children under age 6 having all parents in the workforce. 

First Steps Kent
First Steps Kent

The purpose of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage is to provide dedicated and sustainable funding for programs that improve the health, school readiness, and well-being of children under age five; therefore allowing more children and families from across the community to participate in programs that are proven to increase their likelihood of success in school and beyond.

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