Kent Co. OKs first steps of Ready by Five program

Kent County
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A voter-approved program to prepare Kent County children for kindergarten is one step closer to beginning.

Kent County commissioners Thursday approved First Steps Kent’s proposal for administering the Ready by Five program and where funding will go.

Kent County officials say the county is the first in Michigan to dedicate local tax dollars to early childhood support.

Advocates say Ready by Five will support children from birth to age five —a critical time for brain and social-emotional development. The services will include in-home parenting support, developmental screenings and play and learn groups.

A group of parents, county commissioners, a board member of First Steps Kent and an early childhood expert from the community will review pitches from potential service providers and award the first round of funding this fall.

In November, voters approved a millage that will provide more than $5.5 million each year to support enhanced early childhood resources for families.

The county says it will evaluate the impact of all programs funded through the millage and share the results with the public.

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