Within Kent County, the usage of data will foster an early childhood network that learns from and makes data-informed decisions. First Steps Kent's collective work ultimately seeks to impact three key indicators to ensure every child in Kent County is healthy and ready for kindergarten. These contributing indicators will provide additional depth, vision, and alignment with initiatives occurring in Michigan and across the county.
CHILDREN ARE BORN HEALTHY
The weight of a baby at birth is a significant predictor of a child's health. Low birthweight is defined as a baby weighing less than five-and-a-half pounds. Newborns weighing less than that can be at increased risk of poor developmental and health outcomes through life.
In 2018, 680 out of 8,613 babies born in Kent County had a low birthweight. That was 7.9 percent of all births. There are significant disparities among race and ethnicity within this number.
CHILDREN ARE HEALTHY AND DEVELOPMENTALLY ON TRACK
Early detection of developmental concerns can have long-term impact on a child’s later educational success. In the State of Michigan, 31 percent of children between the ages of nine months through 35 months receive a developmental screening (2017-2018). Research indicates that when parents express one or more concerns, their child's risk for disabilities is eight times greater than for parents who have no concerns.
CHILDREN HAVE ACCESS TO EARLY LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Research shows that when a child is in an environment that supports development through stimulating activities and has a positive relationship with a responsive caregiver, the benefits are maintained even after the child has left the program or provider’s care.
Out of 724 licensed childcare providers in Kent County, 299 have obtained a three-star-rating or higher (2019).
Child Trends DataBank