First Steps Kent releases report “Today’s Investment in Tomorrow: The State of Early Childhood Programs and Services in Kent County.”

A new report from First Steps Kent reframes the conventional question "Are kids ready for kindergarten?" to ask a more encompassing question: "Is the community ready to ensure kids are ready for kindergarten?" A "ready community" has policies, programs, and supports in place that foster healthy births, ensure children's overall well-being and development, and prepare them for school.

The report entitled "Today’s Investment in Tomorrow: The State of Early Childhood Programs and Services in Kent County" focuses on early childhood development programs that start prenatally and support children until they enter kindergarten. It emphasizes the progress made since Kent County voters approved the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage in 2018, as well as remaining gaps, challenges, and opportunities. It serves as a follow-up to a 2017 report produced by First Steps Kent that analyzed gaps in early childhood services and funding.

“We have seen increased participation in programs that support young children’s health, development, and school readiness in all corners of Kent County,” said Jennifer Headley, Nordman, president of First Steps Kent. “This is thanks in large part to the community’s investment in early childhood programs and services and the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage. At the same time, we know there is still work to be done to make sure all our young children have what they need to be successful.”

While focusing on a wide range of early childhood programs, the report highlights acute needs in child care, especially for children ages two and younger. Quality care is currently only available for only three in 10 infants and toddlers in Kent County. The full report can be accessed here. A print-friendly version is also available, and physical copies can be requested by emailing Megan Streng at

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