Goals and Strategies
Component One: Early Education & Care
- All Families and children have access to high quality child care and early education.
- Children are ready to succeed in school and life.
Parents are their children’s primary caregivers and foremost teachers. With the demands of today’s work world, most young children are cared for by someone other than their parents prior to entering kindergarten. Over 65% of children under 6 years of age in our 5 county region have all parents working outside the home.
High quality child care and early education provides a safe, healthy and nurturing environment for infants and children. Young children receiving high quality early care and education have stronger language, social, and academic skills upon entering school.
Early Education & Care Strategies Prioritized:
- Children are developmentally ready to succeed at the time of school entry.
- Expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare for parents who are working, attending school, or work training.
- Ensure universal access to affordable, high-quality preschool for all.
- Increase access to quality information about early childhood development and learning, and opportunities for continuing and post-secondary education for all caregivers, including parents and guardians.
- Children with developmental delays or disabilities receive the interventions and continuous support they need to develop to their highest potential.
- Increase agency and community support for early education services.
Goals & Strategies
Component Two: Social & Emotional Health
- Infants, young children, and their families are socially and emotionally healthy.
- Public awareness of the importance of social and emotional health is prioritized.
Young children who are socially and emotionally healthy are self-confident and can more easily cope with their emotions, control their impulses, and form friendships. Healthy young children have learned through nurturing relationships that they can trust adults and look to them for guidance. Research tells us that social and emotional skills are the foundation for success in school.
Across our region in 2010, the rate of children in investigated homes for abuse and neglect had risen by 67% since 2005, while confirmed victims rose by 220% across our 5 counties. Our children are the greatest victims of the economic stresses placed on our families. Prolonged exposure to these stressors can damage a child’s rapidly developing brain connections. The lack of safe, secure adult relationships impedes children’s social and emotional development.
Social & Emotional Health Strategies Prioritized:
- Increase social/emotional training opportunities and support services for parents and providers.
- Increase public and parent awareness about the importance of social/emotional health including information about milestones and age-appropriate behaviors.
- Complete a gap analysis of early childhood offerings and develop a plan to help educate and promote agency collaboration.
Goals & Strategies
Component Three: Parent Education and Child Advocacy
- Parents have the opportunity to gain skills in advocacy for children prenatal–8 years old.
- Families support and guide the early learning of their children.
Family members are the first “teachers” a child encounters and their learning begins within the context of the family. Children thrive in loving, supportive relationships where family members and parents provide the foundation for a child’s earliest growth and development.
Raising young children is challenging for every parent, regardless of income or education. Parents function best when they have a dependable network of people they can turn to for advice and support. All families benefit from access to a community system of services that strengthen and support their parenting and nurturing roles.
Parent Education and Child Advocacy Strategies Prioritized:
- The region adopts a commitment to the 5 Protective Factors utilizing a model of community awareness, education, and action.
- Parents have the skills and tools needed to be effective advocates for the needs of young children and families.
Goals & Strategies
Component Four: Family Supports and Basic Needs
- Families have access to community resources to assist them in meeting the needs of their family and children.
- Families of infants and young children are provided access to supports to assist in gaining economic stability.
Michigan has been experiencing extremely difficult economic times. Our region suffers some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the state, with over 34% of our children living at or below the poverty line. This translates to economic stress for many families; young children need a stable, safe, and secure family environment in order to flourish.
The inability to meet basic needs is one of the most significant barriers to providing effective parenting and caring for children. Poverty is a strong predictor of challenges for young children.
Unemployment in our 5 county region is at 13%, while UNDER-employment across the state of Michigan is at 18.8%. There is significant increased demand for local assistance programs such as food and baby pantries and a significant increase in the need for charity care from our medical institutions.
Family Supports and Basic Needs Strategies Prioritized:
- All children have basic needs met – food, clothing and supplies, shelter, and safety.
- Employers and agencies have access to standards-based information about family-friendly best practices that benefit community members, employees, and employers.
Goals & Strategies
Component Five: Physical Health
- Infants, young children & their families are physically healthy.
- The public recognizes a healthy beginning in life for all children is an essential part of a healthy community.
Healthy children are more able to engage in the full range of life experiences that promote early learning. A lack of health care or delays in the treatment of health problems, including dental care, can negatively affect a child’s development with lifelong consequences.
A quality start in life begins with consistent and competent prenatal care and continues with access to regular healthcare providers who provide preventive care such as immunizations and screenings for developmental, hearing, and vision problems.
Physical Health Strategies Prioritized:
- Children are born healthy.
- Children are prepared to succeed in 4th grade and beyond by reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
- All parents have access to information about “best practices” that promote long-term health; including prenatal practices and seek a family medical home.
- Parents and a diverse collaborative body is the entity that is driving the work of the GSC, focusing on the 4 outcomes laid out by the Michigan Office of Great Start.
GSC Infrastructure is the underlying base or foundation necessary for successful development and resilience of its infrastructure. The GSC will focus on the 4 outcomes laid out by the Michigan Office of Great Start in 2013: Children are born healthy; Children are healthy, thriving, and developmentally on track from birth to third grade; Children are developmentally ready to succeed in school at the time of school entry; Children are prepared to succeed in fourth grade and beyond by reading proficiently by the end of third grade. In order to achieve these outcomes, as well as goals laid out by ECIC, the Office of Great Start recommends a persistent focus on six high leverage areas: leadership, parent education and involvement, quality and accountability, coordination and collaboration, efficient funding and access to quality programs. By focusing on these areas, the GSC and all of it’s partners strive to efficiently leverage resources for system change. The focus for the GSC Infrastructure is for the GSC to work to establish and sustain a permanent collaborative structure overseeing the promotion of early childhood issues in the COOR/Iosco counties, and to provide education to local policy makers regarding how they can help to achieve these outcomes. The activities and action agenda to meet these goals were also developed by our Collaborative. The Collaborative goals are achievable within the plan laid out by the ECIC and OGS.
Collaborative Infrastructure Strategies Prioritized:
- Increase engagement of parents in the Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalition work.
- Diverse engagement is represented in the GSC work. Membership reflects socio-economic, gender, academic, ethnic, racial, family structure, religious, political and community size, groups experiencing disparities, and other diverse characteristics.
- Increase engagement of local business and media.
- Increase Parent Leadership and Advocacy.