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 educators who step it up for children every day. Early childhood education is needed for a child’s healthy development and lifelong success and we support this work and them as an essential part of the early childhood landscape in Kent County.

Our community’s vision is that every young child will be ready to succeed in school and in life. “Whether you are a child care provider, teacher, service provider for families, or parent, your work matters. Consistently showing up in the life of a child and providing resources for families of young children makes a difference,” said Annemarie Valdez, president of First Steps Kent.

First Steps Kent is a non-profit organization leading a collaborative effort to develop an early childhood system of support services for young children, ages 0-5, and their families.

First Steps Kent works in partnership with other early education champions including the Great Start Collaborative, KConnect, the Kent County Family & Children’s Coordinating Council, parents, health systems, education systems, human service agencies, foundations, and other child advocates.

“Working collaboratively strengthens the whole early childhood system,” said Valdez. “That is why we celebrate with our state and national partners to bring public attention to the value and importance of early childhood education. Young children learn through play and we know that between ages birth to five a child’s brain develops more, and more rapidly, than at any other time.”

The Week of the Young Child was established in 1971 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to recognize that the early childhood years (birth through age eight) lay the foundation for a child's success in school and later life.

According to NAEYC, “children's opportunities are our responsibilities, and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that each and every child experiences the type of early environment—at home, at child care, at school, and in the community—will promote their early learning.”

Children and educators are invited to participate in daily themes and share pictures and videos on social media using #WOYC21. Learn more on NAEYC's website.

    What can I do to help?

    Use the Week of the Young Child as an opportunity to write or call your local senator/representative. Click here to learn who represents you.

    Here are some sample talking points you can use when talking or writing to your legislator:

    • I urge you to ensure that Michigan appropriates all available federal funds to improve access to high-quality child care for families who have been affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis and to stabilize child care businesses so they can continue to care for Michigan’s youngest residents now and after the public health crisis ends.
    • Share that April 10-16, 2021 is the 50th Anniversary of the Week of the Young Child. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAECY) began this designation in 1971 to support and promote early childhood educators and the work they do for our youngest children and their families.
    • Child care is essential for parents to be able to work, but too many families around the state can’t afford it—the cost is often higher than college tuition, rent, or mortgage payments. And at the same time, child care providers have been struggling to make a living and support themselves even before COVID-19 increased the strain on the industry. Policymakers need to look at ways to invest more in both the supply and demand sides of child care to help both families and providers.
    • Share your personal story. Your “why.” For early educators, why did you get into this profession? For parents, why does quality child care make your life easier or harder?

    Help your lawmaker understand why child care providers are essential to getting the local economy back on track.

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