Here’s looking at you, kids, and we’ll help you get a good start

If we have learned anything during this contentious election season, it is that we live in overtly partisan times. But we believe, despite the rhetoric coming from all around us, that people of all political persuasions and from all walks of life truly do want the same things for their families and communities: prosperity, safety and opportunity.

Perhaps nowhere is that consensus deeper than in our shared desire to see our children thrive. We agree that whether a baby is born in a poor zip code or a rich one, in America, both should grow up with health and security, with opportunity to thrive and with abundant love and support from both family and community – the elements that ensure bright futures.

In Detroit, this shared belief is especially prevalent. It’s an undercurrent running through so many corners of the community – from schools to childcare centers, to health clinics. We believe now is the time for the community to come together to surface it, refine it, name it and claim it.

That’s why we’re launching Hope Starts Here: Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership, a bold, city-wide engagement to bring the needs of Detroit’s youngest citizens, from birth to age 8, to the forefront.

At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, we’ve worked for decades on behalf of vulnerable people and children, both nationally and in Detroit. At WKKF, we’ve become a national leader in working with communities to prioritize improving childhood outcomes. At Kresge, we’ve led efforts to revitalize Detroit and to include all of the city’s residents in that process. We both agree that when cities put children and their needs at the forefront, they reap immeasurable long-term economic and social benefits.

As co-chairs of Hope Starts Here, we are inviting Detroit parents, grandparents, caregivers, childcare providers, early childhood organizations, residents, and business and civic leaders to shape an early childhood development plan for Detroit that will provide children and their families with the supports and opportunities they need, and deserve, to thrive in school and in life. We seek to envision and realize a plan that will provide for generations to come.

Hope Starts Here will engage with Detroiters during public forums, social media conversations and one-on-one interviews. We’ll ask key questions of parents, providers and advocates. What is the current state of life for Detroit’s children? What’s working now? What services need to be expanded or created to nurture young children from birth into their early years?

We know why this is good for children. We know quality prenatal and pediatric care will ensure healthy births, combating the city’s nearly 12 percent infant mortality rate. We know access to quality affordable child care and learning environments will provide children with the strong foundation they need to be prepared for kindergarten. We know third grade reading readiness will further improve a child’s chances of school success and high school graduation, taking direct aim at the challenge that only 10 percent of Detroit public school third graders are proficient in reading.

Why is a strong early childhood development system important to Detroit? Reliable child care services enable families to more fully participate in the workforce and contribute to the local economy. It’s a fair guess that the average Detroit taxpayer isn’t aware of the “Detroit’s One-Child School Readiness Dividend” report. It concluded that taxpayers would save $100,000 over the lifetime of every vulnerable Detroit child who is helped by early childhood programs to be fully ready to enter kindergarten at age five. Today’s children are Detroit’s future workforce, taxpayers, voters and leaders. We must prepare them.

We’re excited to participate and watch hope build in Detroit. We know the real leaders are those who live and work with young people every day. They are the most knowledgeable and capable change agents. Hope Starts Here is our invitation and promise that WKKF and Kresge are committed to bringing increased urgency and broader action to the needs of young children. Will you join us?

Follow us at Hope Starts Here Detroit and on Facebook. Stay tuned for updates and information about ways you can ensure that #HopeBuilds for generations of Detroit’s youngest children.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

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Fri, 11/11/2016 - 3:16pm
OMG, How many new programs do we need? These type of foundational efforts with government efforts have been going on in Detroit for decades without any significant positive effect. Head Start, Free Breakfast & Lunch and many food and programs available during the summer months as well. How about teaching young people not to have children until they themselves have an education and a job to support a family. Sure we all want the prosperity, safety and opportunity for children...who isn't against that and the human nature reflex is to support efforts promoted this way. Cities like Detroit now have a growing demographic of comfortable poverty where people are content with the basics in life and pass that same culture to their children.
Stephen C Brown
Sun, 11/13/2016 - 3:53pm
If you believe that this is the only reason for poverty, and that all poor people deserve their fate-then why do their children? The data is there-the best means of breaking the "chain of poverty" is early childhood health care and education. This is an investment-not a maintenance fee, so that these children can have opportunities to escape the fate of their parents. Your attitude is better directed against Seniors!
Kevin Grand
Sat, 11/12/2016 - 12:17pm
Given that the link at the beginning of this article isn't working, it's kind of hard to gauge the specifics of what they are proposing. That been said, I also need to agree with Mark; How many of these programs do we really need? With the words "responsible parent" practically an oxymoron in Detroit, the focus here shouldn't be on the children, but rather the people who are bringing them into the world without the means (and often) the desire to raise them properly. Until you focus on that side of the equation, you can allocate all of the resources you want, it won't be going away any time soon until you address the source of the problem.
Wed, 11/16/2016 - 3:15pm
Thanks for the link, showing the marriage issue that is often left out and other statistics. I was surprised that Detroit ranked 4th highest single parent household metro area. The stat on married couples preferring suburbs (51%) with central cities and non-urban areas at nearly equal percentages (25% & 24%). The heading under "Single-parent renters had it tough" listed some of the issues that the foundation should look at, especially since they point out 69% of single-parents in metro areas rent and 72% of married-couple parents own. I hope the foundations look at the information you gave and the extra help to immigrant families moving to Detroit is afforded to Detroit residents who grow up in Detroit first, before people who may not have permanent USA residency. There are many free educational websites, but the discount $5 or $10 internet service plans may not be extended to some areas if the internet service is too slow. The discount plans by AT&T are set to expire in 2020 and in some poor neighborhoods residents pay over 7 times the discount plan because of the slow service. Interviews for jobs will sometimes use Skype and slow service could tank the interviewer. I agree that to help the child you need to may sure the parent(s) have the tools to help themselves and also that an area like Detroit should consider services to help children learn while their parent(s) improve their job skills. A high literacy of adults would improve the odds of the child being read to and parents using some of the free book a month programs and/or library card. Maybe Detroit should consider some mobile home parks where the plot can be purchased from the city/non-profit to increase home ownership. Learning/literacy/skill training areas mobile or fixed site, possible working with community groups or businesses.
Wed, 11/16/2016 - 3:40pm
Forgot to mention the immigrants giving more help is part of the "One house, one family at a time, immigrants are helping refill Detroit" story on this website. "Investor 4 Detroit" comment mentioned how much money immigrants can get for financing. They may have service for native Detroit residents, but most stories focus on helping the non-native Detroit people from other countries. It may take longer, but helping the native Detroit residents find their true career/passion and giving them the tools to work toward achieving the positive steps to get there, needs to be part of the solution. Bringing in more people to water down the statistics of people neglected and tossed aside is hiding a problem not fixing it. Many programs exist that can help, but the one-on-one helping people make the right connections is not always easy. Getting the parents born and raised in Detroit a higher opportunity and the hope of making it will help them foster a higher sense of hope for their children. Without hope in a better future how can a parent confidently help/show their child that the effort is worth it.
Joseph Mark Sullivan
Sun, 11/13/2016 - 10:20am
Kudos to the Kresge and Kellogg Foundations for focusing on young children. We have all read about the benefits of investing in early childhood. Phil Powers has written about it frequently in these pages. The benefits are enormous and every child deserves the best we can offer.
lewis(Bill) Dickens
Wed, 11/30/2016 - 8:52am
Safety and Opportunity?????? Nebulous words. Let't try EDUCATION!