Young children receive services to help with early learning and development due to recent millage investments

(September 18, 2023)—More families in Kent County will be able to receive services that improve young children's health and school readiness thanks to a new round of Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage funding approved on September 14, 2023.

Funding totaling more than $11 million will be distributed to 18 community-based organizations operating 34 programs from October 2023-September 2024. New this round includes a child care technology system that will allow parents to find real-time information about available child care spots that best fit their needs.

“We are grateful for the support of Kent County residents. The Ready by Five Millage continues to be such an important investment and is making a difference in the lives of young children and their families across our community,” said Jennifer Headley-Nordman, president of First Steps Kent. “The requests for funding greatly exceeded the amount we had to allocate, which shows that this millage is necessary and continues to make an impact,”

A Resident Proposal Review Board comprised of parents, Kent County Commissioners and other community members reviewed all proposals. In July, that group’s recommendations went to the First Steps Kent Board of Commissioners, who administers the millage funding, and was approved by the Kent County Board of Commissioners yesterday.

The Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage supports programs in the following categories. The organizations that were recommended and approved for funding for the next year are noted below:

  • PARENT EDUCATION AND SUPPORT: Parent Education and Support programming ensures parents have the knowledge and skills to support their children’s health, development, and learning. Services provide in-home and/or community-based support and education. Programs offer parent education through home visiting as well as ancillary support that addresses the preventable causes of infant and child mortality. 
  • EARLY LEARNING PROGRAMS: High-quality early learning experiences nurture a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Examples of early learning services include play and learn groups, supports for caregivers, and connections to early intervention services. 
  • HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS: Healthy Development programs focus on improving the lives of families in Kent County in regard to healthier births, overall child health and well-being, as well as ensuring children are developmentally on track. 
  • OUTREACH AND NAVIGATION: Outreach and Navigation services educate parents about resources to support their child’s healthy development and early learning. The services make a personal connection with parents and check they are getting support from the right programs that fit their needs. 

"The Ready by Five millage has brought positive change and transformation in the lives of our youngest residents,” said Kent County Administrator Al Vanderberg. “By providing invaluable resources to parents and families, we are not just preparing our little ones for kindergarten; we are nurturing a brighter future for our entire community.”

Kent County voters approved the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage on November 6, 2018. The six-year millage generates approximately $6.7 million each year of dedicated funding for community-based early childhood programs, ensuring children and their families have access to vital services. All millage dollars go through an independent audit and are reported to the Kent County Board of Commissioners each year to ensure taxpayer funds are spent wisely and transparently.

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