Articles

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage

Kent County Children Benefit from Early Learning Investments

Kent County Children Benefit from Early Learning Investments | Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage awards $9 million to 28 programs

COVID-19

How has COVID-19 impacted early childhood and development

“Learning Loss” is something parents and educators are hearing a lot about lately. In Kent County, the numbers show our youngest children are going to …

Shared Services

More Families Now Eligible for Free or Low-Cost Child Care

The little things you do for your child in their early years make a big difference. For many families finding quality, affordable child care is a key …

Child Care

Announcing Child Care Stabilization Grant

Mark your calendar! The Michigan Department of Education is pleased to announce that the application for the Child Care Stabilization Grant will open …

Equity Talks

"Our Changing Families" A Conversation Guide

"Our Changing Families" A Conversation Guide, to go along with the Equity Talks video.

Equity Talks

"How Identity is Formed" Conversation Guide

Child Care and the Benefits for our Kids

It all comes down to a feeling. As a parent, you can tell at drop-off or pick-up if your child is being loved and growing in their environment. …

Normal was Never Enough

Normal was Never Enough

After 18 months of social distancing, Zoom meetings, and virtual classes, getting back to normal sounds appealing. This school year is still heavily …

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage

Responding to Infant Mortality in Kent County

The rate of fetal and infant (defined as before a child’s first birthday) death is recognized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among …

Different Types of Families

Discovering How We are Alike and Different from Others

Our friends at WGVU helped us find some additional resources to use in our homes or classrooms to help start conversations about different types of …

Identity Resources

Discovering How We are Alike and Different from Others

Our friends at WGVU helped us find some additional resources to use in our homes or classrooms to talk about how we are alike and different from …

Strong Beginnings

Strong Beginnings

A community partnership dedicated to improving the health and well-being of African American and Latino families during pregnancy and early childhood.

Bright Beginnings

Bright Beginnings

Bright Beginnings is a Blue-Ribbon Model Affiliate of the Parents as Teachers program which promotes the early development, learning, and health of …

Health Net of West Michigan

Meet the Ali Family

Farah and her husband, Yousef had just welcomed their third child into their family at a local hospital. Farah was referred to Health Net of West …

Child Care

Child Care and the Working Family

(September 12, 2021) Child care has always been a never-ending battle for families because of availability and cost. There are not enough available …

Cherry Health

EatPlayGrow Makes a Difference

“As a new early childhood educator, I always wonder how impactful the program will be in the lives of our participants,” said Amani Allen, EatPlayGrow …

Child Care

Early Education as a Profession

Preschool children at the Grand Rapids Early Discovery Center were interested in bugs; not just different types of bugs but also bug habitats. As …

Child Care

What it takes to be a child care provider

Being a child care provider and/or owning a child care business takes a lot of work, but is so valuable to our families and communities. There are …

Millage Recipients

Early Childhood Attachment

Early Childhood Attachment

Press Release

Parents, advocates and business groups: Legislature must approve $1.4B…

Delaying investment in Michigan’s child care hurts workforce, economic development

Opinion

Child Care and the Case for the Economy

Having spent time working in both the workforce development sector and child care system over the past ten years, one theme that I’ve seen play out …

Equity Talks

First Steps Kent Launches Equity Talks

Are they really old enough to understand? Are we putting ideas in their heads? Aren’t they naturally colorblind? Those are a few common questions …

Shared Services

Peer to Peer Support

When it comes to solving the day-to-day challenges as well as the big problems that come with running a child care business, there’s one group of …

Report

Millage Update for Calendar Year 2020

From January through December 2020, thousands of young children across Kent County benefited from the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage, despite …

Arbor Circle

Supporting Parents and Child Care Providers

Simon is a 4-year-old boy who lives with his mother. Simon was at risk for expulsion from his child care center. He was being sent home daily and, in …

Hispanic Center of West Michigan

New Baby - New Challenges

The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan supports expectant mothers and parents with young children by providing them with opportunities to access …

Family Promise

Welcome to our Kent County Community

Recently, Maya and Javier Rivera moved with their three children from out of state to the Grand Rapids area. Upon arriving in Michigan, the family was …

Bright Beginnings

Ready by Five Translation and Intepretation Success

Beginning in 2021, Translation and Interpretation is a new service category for the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage. By ensuring that services …

Shared Services

How to Successfully Manage Conflict at Work

Does your workplace feel like a boxing match? The picture featured in this article of three-time world champion Muhammad Ali towering in triumph above …

Week of the Young Child

Celebrate Week of the Young Child

Join us as we “Step it Up” during the 50th Anniversary of the Week of the Young Child, April 10-16, 2021. We will recognize and honor early childhood …

Cherry Health

EatPlayGrow and Reach Out and Read Deliver Results

My name is Cheryl Gage and I am an AmeriCorps member serving with Cherry Health AmeriCorps in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My desire is to teach others to …

Kent County Health Department

Kent County Health Department Home Health Lead Screenings

Young children are the most at risk for lead poisoning. Even at low levels, lead can affect a child’s brain development, causing developmental delays, …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - West Michigan Partnership for Children

West Michigan Partnership for Children (WMPC) is a new recipient of Ready by Five Millage funding as of January 2021. WMPC works in collaboration to …

Liaison Linguistics

Millage Recipient Profile - Liaison Linguistics

Liaison Linguistics is new to the Ready by Five Provider Network. The agency will provide translation and interpretation support to families enrolled …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - Bethany Christian Services

First Steps Kent welcomes Bethany Christian Services to the Ready by Five Provider Network. Bethany receives millage funding for two of its services.

Shared Services

Business Support and Resources for Kent County Licensed Child Care…

Do you need Technical Assistance Support for your Child Care Business? On behalf of the Kent CARES Act Program for licensed child care, technical …

Ready by Five Evaluation

The Ready by Five Millage invests in programs that promote to what has been identified as four “contributing indicators” of kindergarten success, …

Shared Services

Child Care and the CARES Act

Child care providers hit hard by the pandemic are getting help to make sure their centers and homes are clean and safe for kids. Kent County awarded …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - Hispanic Center of Western Michigan

Located in the heart of Roosevelt Park, the largest Latino neighborhood in Grand Rapids, the Hispanic Center serves more than 12,000 individuals …

2022 QIC Login Info

Translation and Interpretation

All programs funded by Ready by Five now have access to Translation and Interpretation Services and the cost will be covered by Ready by Five Millage …

Arbor Circle

Arbor Circle’s KEEP Making a Difference

Simon*, a four-year-old, has seen things we hope children never have to. He has a history of trauma due to witnessing domestic violence by his father …

Help Me Grow Kent

Help Me Grow Kent Outreach and Navigation

Language barriers can often be the cause of frustration, especially when trying to navigate the early childhood system in Kent County. Help me Grow …

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage

Expanded Early Childhood Services will Help More Young Kids in Kent…

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage awards $2.6 million to 12 community programs

Annemarie Valdez

Annemarie Valdez named a top 200 Most Powerful Business Leaders in…

We are pleased to announce that our First Steps Kent President, Annemarie Valdez, has been acknowledged as one of the top 200 Most Powerful Business …

Equity and Inclusion

Equity and Inclusion

Kent County families have spent much of 2020 changing their course of action amid new uncertainties and realities. The stress is not only connected to …

Birth Equity

Birth Equity

The health of a baby at birth can have a lasting impact on his or her development, learning, and behavior, ultimately impacting success in school and …

School Readiness

Within Kent County, the usage of data will foster an early childhood network that learns from and makes data-informed decisions. First Steps Kent's …

You Got This.

Talking to Kids about Race

Talking to kids about race can be a scary thing. Many of us were taught that we should not “see color” or talk about race because it makes some people …

3-Year-Old Pilot Preschool

Kent County has been funded to conduct a three-year research project to determine the benefits of having an additional year of preschool for early …

Commission Members

First Steps Kent Commission Meetings

Shared Services

What Child Care Providers Need to Know About CARES Act Funding

Kent County recently awarded First Steps Kent $450,000 in federal CARES Act dollars to assist licensed child care providers. This grant funding will …

Shared Services

Kent County Awards First Steps Kent Grant Funding to Help Child Care…

Funding Will Assist More Than 600 Licensed Childcare Providers Implement New COVID-19 Protocols

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage

Backpacks for Kindergartners

With so much uncertainty in children’s lives right now, parents want to make sure they are set up for the best possible start to school. Whether they …

Funding Opportunities

2022 Funding Opportunities

First Steps Kent is pleased to announce that the Ready by Five Millage will offer new funding opportunities this fall.

You Got This.

Brain-Building Activities

Your little one’s mind is hard at work. You can see it every time your baby reacts to your smile. Every time your toddler plays catch with you or …

Early Learning

Pritzker Fellow Capstone Report

The Pritzker Fellows Program was designed to build catalytic leadership capacity in communities in order to develop and drive implementation of an …

Millage Process

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage Pre-Proposal Conference

We will hold two Pre-Proposal Conferences to provide information about the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage proposal process. Both sessions will …

You Got This.

7 Science-Backed Ways to Lower Your Stress and Fight Back Against the…

Things are weird right now. It’s not controversial to say it -- we’re all feeling it. Especially for parents, the massive disruption of normal …

You Got This.

Take a Listen: Parents, You Got This.

Parents, it’s important to know that you were made to be your child’s first and most important teacher. Don’t let that scare you, your child was born …

Family Promise

Meaningful Collaborations Make a Real Difference

Ryann is a mother of three who recently found herself in a housing crisis. With two children under years old and nowhere to go she was at one of the …

Strong Beginnings

Connecting with a Teenage Mother

K.K., who is 16 years old, is pregnant with her first child. She lives with her mom, sibling, and her boyfriend. She was referred to Strong Beginnings …

Health Net of West Michigan

Meet Paula and Avery

Paula was a new mother who had recently given birth to her daughter Avery and was referred to Health Net of West Michigan for an appointment reminder …

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage

Ready by Five is Seeking Resident Proposal Review Board Parent…

First Steps Kent is recruiting parents of children birth through five years of age to serve on the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage’s Resident …

Equity and Inclusion

How to Talk to Your Kids about Racism

It is important that young children see the adults in their lives promoting positive change. First Steps Kent has compiled a list of resources to …

Play and Learn Communities

Play and Learn Groups Get Creative

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we focused on the need to meet parents and families where they were. This happened quickly with online …

You Got This.

You Got This.

The last few months have upended many – if not most – of our routines. That is especially true for parents, who suddenly had to balance the closure of …

You Got This.

Parenting During Coronavirus: You Are Enough

When I called a friend to tell her how I was failing at enrichment activities for the kids recently — there’s been lots of screen time and maybe some …

You Got This.

The Little Things are the Big Things

You are your child’s first and most important teacher. That can sound scary and overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need fancy lesson …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - Comprehensive Therapy Center

Comprehensive Therapy Center (CTC) meets the therapeutic and educational needs of people with disabilities through skill building, academic …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - MomsBloom

When a new baby comes, parents often find themselves overwhelmed and in need of help – and don’t have enough supportive people in their lives. …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - Cherry Health

Cherry Health is an independent, non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with a primary focus of providing high-quality health services to …

Outreach and Navigation

Outreach and Navigation Roundtable

Ready by Five Partner Highlight: In early June, about 15 Navigators from Outreach and Navigation programs funded by the Ready by Five Early Childhood …

Child Care

Re-Opening Resources for Child Care Providers

With the spread of COVID-19, child care providers are being asked to develop and implement new health and safety protocols to ensure children, …

Equity and Inclusion

Equity and Inclusion Impact Statement

First Steps does and has always felt the anguish of injustice for people of color. That is why we intently focus on creating lasting change staring …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - Easterseals Michigan

Easterseals Michigan provides a wide variety of interventions that help individuals of all abilities, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - Arbor Circle

Arbor Circle's mission is to transform the lives of children, adults, and families facing mental health, substance use, and family concerns in a …

COVID-19 Services and Rates

First Steps Kent is announcing some modifications to the Special COVID-19 Rates as of October 19, 2020.

Child Care

Distribution of Supplies to Child Care Providers

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has raised awareness about the importance of a critical workforce – child care providers. In response, the …

Child Care

Cash Assistance for Child Care Providers

A new resource for "Cash Assistance" assistance for Kent County residents has been added to Heart of West Michigan United Way's 2-1-1 referral system.

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage Privacy Notice

This First Steps Kent Privacy Practice describes how personal information about you and your child may be used and disclosed by programs funded by the …

Millage Recipients

Millage Recipient Profile - D.A. Blodgett - St. John's

“The attachment and bond of a child to a caregiver is crucial as it sets the tone for so many aspects of that child’s life – social, emotional, …

Millage News

Free early childhood 'Play and Learn’ groups increasing for parents,…

Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) plans to expand its early childhood “Play and Learn” groups to help parents and caregivers get preschoolers …

Millage News

Program receives funding for three parent educators to serve areas of…

Bright Beginnings, a program which serves children from birth to kindergarten with home visits, play groups and free screenings, is the recipient of …

Millage News

Tax-funded early childhood programs to begin, expand March 2020

New and expanded programs to promote the healthy development of children up to age 5 and connect their parents with resources will begin in …

Millage News

Linking early literacy and health: Lakeshore healthcare collaborative…

Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit that champions the positive effects of reading daily and engaging in other language-rich activities with young …

Child Care

COVID-19 Financial Resources for Child Care Providers

As a Child Care Business, you help our community every day by providing safe and nurturing environments in which children learn and grow. We know that …

Child Care

Coordinating Child Care During COVID-19

The people of West Michigan are expressing well-deserved gratitude to our essential workers in health care, food supply, the delivery industry, first …

COVID-19

Ready by Five Programs Find a Way

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 …

COVID-19

Update to our Partners during COVID-19

Good health is a team effort. During this unprecedented time, First Steps Kent is teaming up with our many community partners to continue to support …

Resources

Resources for Child Care Providers in Response to COVID-19

For Child Care Providers, First Steps Kent wants to connect you to valuable resources that can help keep the children in your lives safe and healthy.

Resources

Resources for Families in Kent County in Response to COVID-19

Michigan schools have closed until further notice, and that could put a strain on your family and young children. First Steps Kent wants to connect …

Outreach and Navigation

Outreach and Navigation

Expectant parents and parents of young children need to be able to connect to early childhood information and support services in the community. These …

Healthy Development

Healthy Development programming supports parents and caregivers in obtaining the knowledge and skills to support their child’s health, development, …

Parenting Education Programs

Home Visiting and Translation and Interpretation.

Birth Equity

Birth Equity in Kent County

The health of a baby at birth can have a lasting impact on his or her development, learning, and behavior, ultimately impacting success in school and …

Early Learning Programs

High-quality early learning experiences nurture a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Examples of services include play and learn …

Millage Awardees

Millage Recipient Profile - Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative

The Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative is part of the Ready by Five Provider Network!

Millage Awardees

Millage Recipient Profile - Kent ISD

Kent ISD is part of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage Outreach and Navigation Network.

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage

Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage awards $7.6 million to 23…

Thousands of kent county families will benefit from increased early childhood programming.

Annemarie Valdez

Annemarie Valdez honored among 50 Most Influential Women in West…

Annemarie Valdez honored among 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan for 2020

Millage Awardees

Millage Recipient Profile - Family Futures

Family Futures of Grand Rapids is part of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage outreach and navigation network.

Community Partners

How Head Start Made a Difference in Annemarie Valdez's Future

Head Start for Kent County interviewed First Steps Kent President & CEO, Annemarie Valdez, on her experiences with Head Start as a child in inner-city …

Millage News

What Every Resident Should Know about the Ready By Five Early…

What is the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage?

Annemarie Valdez

Annemarie Valdez named one of the Top 200 Most Powerful Business…

We’re excited to share that our President & CEO, Annemarie Valdez, has been recognized as one of the Top 200 Most Powerful Business Leaders in West …

Funding Opportunities

Updates on the 2019 Ready by Five Funding Opportunities

Your organization submitted a proposal, here's what is coming next.

Millage Awardees

Millage Recipient Profile - Health Net of West Michigan

Health Net of West Michigan is part of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage Outreach and Navigation Network.

Millage Awardees

Millage Recipient Profile - Family Promise

Family Promise of Grand Rapids is part of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage outreach and navigation network.

Millage Awardees

Four Local Organizations to Receive First Round of Millage Funding

Ready By Five Early Childhood Millage Will Help Connect Thousands Of Kent County Families To Critical Services

Millage Process

Resident Proposal Review Board

Deciding how the Ready by Five Early Childhood millage funding is spent is no small task...

Early Learning

Pilot Program to Provide Business Support to Child Care Providers

First Steps Kent received a $750,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to...

Millage News

Kent County First in Michigan for Early Childhood Funding

When the Ready by Five Early Childhood proposal was passed in November 2018...

Literacy

Boosting Literacy in Kent County

One in six children who does not read proficiently in third grade does not graduate from high school on time – a rate four times greater than that for …