Kent County Becomes First County in Michigan to Have a Dedicated Source of Funding for Early Childhood

Ready by Five Early Childhood proposal will make sure all Kent County children receive essential health and developmental screenings.

The Ready by Five Early Childhood Proposal to create a dedicated, stable source of funding for quality early childhood services and programs passed Tuesday with 57% voter support, Yes Ready by Five announced today, making Kent County the first county in Michigan to have a dedicated source of funding for early childhood services.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to invest in all Kent County children and we are overwhelmed by the positive support for the Ready by Five Early Childhood Proposal,” said Lew Chamberlin, co-chair of the First Steps Commission and owner of West Michigan Whitecaps. “We want to thank the entire Kent County community for supporting Kent County kids so they can start ahead and stay ahead. Thanks to Kent County voters, more young children across our community will be healthy and ready to learn.”

Studies show that a dollar invested in early childhood development saves $6 down the road with reduced costs for health care, education, and prisons. The Ready by Early Childhood Proposal will:

“It’s clear that children who start ahead stay ahead and this dedicated source of funding will give Kent County kids a strong foundation for a bright future,” said Kate Pew Wolters, co-chair of the First Steps Commission. “We are grateful for the support of Kent County residents. This is a vital investment in young children across our community and we will now be able to detect health and learning issues early, making sure children are ready for the first day of kindergarten.”

The six-year millage will generate approximately $5.7 million each year and will provide dedicated funding for community-based early childhood programs that are proven to work, ensuring children and their families have access to vital services. All millage dollars will go through an independent audit and be reported to Kent County every year to ensure taxpayer funds are spent wisely and transparently.


Funding from the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education supports the implementation of Great Start.