About the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage

The time between a mother becoming pregnant and the child entering kindergarten is critical for brain development and social and emotional learning. Making sure all parents in Kent County have access to developmental screenings, play opportunities, and brain-building resources for their child is essential and is the focus of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage.

The Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage provides dedicated and sustainable funding for programs that improve the health, school readiness, and well-being of children under age five. It allows 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.

First Steps Kent administers and oversees the millage, which now generates about $6.7 million a year to support critical early childhood services and programs.

To date, more than $15 million has been distributed to programs and services that have been proven to make a difference in the trajectory of young children’s lives.

In 2022, more than 12,400 young children and expectant parents in Kent Count benefitted from direct services funded by the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage. Those served represented every zip code in Kent County, with the largest concentration in the most densely populated communities: the core cities of Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker, and Wyoming.

2022 Ready by Five Numbers:

  • More than 12,400 individuals enrolled in regular programming.
  • 80% were children ages 0-5, 7% expectant parents, 12% other/unavailable.
  • Through the Outreach and Navigation network, partners successfully navigated 3,900 children and families by connecting them to at least one resource.
  • The eight Ready by Five Outreach and Navigation programs completed more than 49,000 contacts and 10,566 screenings.
  • More than 10,000 home visits were completed in 2022 alone, with nearly 1,700 children and expectant parents participating.
  • Play and Learn programs had 974 attendees.
  • Reach out and Read distributed 24,000 books to 14,158 children.
  • Home Health programs completed 375 risk screenings, comprehensive assessments, and follow-up screenings. Of homes screened for environmental risks, lead was the most identified risk with 115 screenings.
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