A Prosperous Region for All Starts with Our Kids, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Blog

A Prosperous Region for All Starts with Our Kids, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Blog

A Prosperous Region for All Starts with Our Kids – Vote YES November 6

By: Alexa Kramer and Holly Windram / Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

On Election Day, Kent County residents will see the Ready by Five Early Childhood Proposal near the end of the ballot. This millage proposal will provide the resources and services our county’s children need to be healthy and prepared for kindergarten.

Funding will provide early screenings to identify developmental delays or disabilities, resources for pregnant woman and parents of young children to navigate the health care system, and resources for families and caregivers to foster healthy social skills and emotional development. The proposal is a .25 mill levied over a period of 6 years. It will raise over $5.5 million per year from 2018-2024.

Whether you have young children of your own, or know of a family with young children, it’s hard to ignore the importance of those first five years.  As a business community, we recognize how critical it is to have the supports in place for young children to be successful, as they are the workforce of tomorrow.  Preparing them for a bright future from the start helps our youth become productive members of our society.

Studies show for every $1 invested in early childhood, we save $6 in the long run with reduced costs in education, health care and prisons. Healthy and capable children under 5 years old enter our school system and eventually our workforce, with the necessary tools for success that benefits all citizens – young and old.

Kent County has seen a wide range of bi-partisan support for this proposal. Early childhood funding is something those on both sides of the aisle can get behind. Kent County has been a leader for supporting children under 5, through programs, initiatives and philanthropic donations.  But with 46 percent of the total population of children under 5 years old in Kent County- an astonishing 20,500 children- living in households that are economically disadvantaged, we know gaps persist. This funding will provide established programs with a proven track record more capacity to meet the needs and close the gap. With every child receiving resources, we make success attainable for all.

The GR Chamber supports efforts to establish a thriving workforce for a thriving community. Early childhood care and education is where the greatest impact can be made for the best return on investment. The Chamber is proud to support the Kent County Ready by Five Early Childhood Proposal as we recognize the millage’s clear connection to laying the foundation of a prosperous community for all.

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