Healthy Development

Healthy Development programs aim to improve the lives of families in Kent County by promoting healthier births, overall child health and well-being, and ensuring children are on track developmentally. These are the Ready by Five funded Healthy Development Programs: 

  • Arbor Circle’s Keep Early Education Positive (KEEP) program partners with parents, teachers, and child care providers when children aged 0-5 face challenges in child care or preschool. The program provides intervention and support that promote positive social-emotional development and ensures successful early learning experiences. 
  • Arbor Circle’s Infant Toddler Developmental Services is a home-based clinical intervention that works with families with young children to build strength and skills, increase bonding between the parent and child, and create a sense of emotional security within the family. Through counseling and other support, parents learn more about themselves and their children and receive guidance for various behavioral concerns and parental issues. 
  • The  Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) is a collective community effort working to ensure Kent County is addressing the social, equity, economic, and health factors that contribute to healthy births in Kent County. The Kent County Health Department leads the action-oriented FIMR to bring together local health providers, parents, advocates, and leaders.   
  • Cherry Health’s Improving Access to Early Childhood Assessments and Treatment Services provides outreach and assistance to families with children ages 0-5 who have been referred for further developmental assessment and treatment. (Recipients must be patients at Cherry Health's Heart of the City Pediatrics.) 

Healthy Development - Niche Family Supports. Each specialized family support service has experience in reaching out to and helping families in unique situations. They support families who may not typically be reached through regular programs and who could benefit from specific services. 

  • Families with children who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness are connected with Family Services Coordinators, which includes supporting families with young children and connecting them to community resources using a trauma-informed approach. This service is provided by Family Promise of West Michigan
  • Early Childhood Navigation through Bethany Christian Service’s Hands Connected program connects children and families to a Refugee Navigator, who provides comprehensive support for families to navigate available community resources. 
  • Family Support Services through the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan works with expectant mothers and parents with young children. They assist with connection to early childhood information and connection to essential community resources, including clothing and food that promote a child’s well-being. 
  • The YMCA of Greater Grand offers the Child and Family Advocate Program to families of children in early childhood education programs in partnership with Grand Rapids Community College, Hispanic Center of West Michigan, Refugee Education Center, and Steepletown Neighborhood Services. Child and Family Advocates partner to strengthen families and their early learning experience through one-on-one support.

Healthy Development - Network Training and Education. Training opportunities are offered to all service professionals funded by Ready by Five and their direct supervisors to cultivate a network that is responsive to the needs of families and young children in Kent County.  

Health Net of West Michigan provides two training series:  

  • Care Model Training Series teaches successful tools for navigation and family engagement to ultimately improve services to families with young children. 
  • Supervisor Learning Cohort provides professional development to Ready by Five supervisors on leadership skills and a framework for effective supervision. 

Family Futures provides one recurring training opportunity:  

  • Healthy Communities Training teaches participants how to respond to family needs with a Trauma-Informed Approach. The training focuses on engaging families and communities through fostering resilience and is based on the Self-Healing Communities model.  

Environmental Home Health 

Environmental health hazards in the home can contribute to lead poisoning in young children, which can lead to birth defects, delays, and more. These Ready by Five providers work with families on issues related to lead and other environmental hazards.  

  • Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan provides in-home screenings for lead-based paint, asthma, and accidental injury risk, with a trained Healthy Housing Specialist. Families are provided with education and supplies to reduce exposure to the hazard(s). Case management services support with referrals to other community organizations as appropriate. 
  • Kent County Health Department (KCHD) offers comprehensive Lead Inspection Risk Assessments that identify the source of lead hazards in a home.  If health hazards are found, KCHD can help connect residents with the help they need. Services are available to families in owner-occupied or rental homes. Funding also supports community education and increasing awareness around the dangers of lead-based paint in Kent County.
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