Action Agenda


1. Family Support:
Economic hardship and other types of deprivation (child neglect or abuse) can have profound effects on children’s development and their prospects for the future. Low family income can impact children’s cognitive development and ability to learn. It can contribute to behavioral, social and emotional problems. The greatest risk is for young children who experience economic hardship, especially that of a severe and chronic nature.

Family Support initiatives help parents develop and use available resources that enable them to nurture and support the healthy development of their children. Family support services range from providing information about early learning, to helping families to access economic security benefits and connect with other families and community services.

2. Family Wellness:
A number of factors before and after the birth of a child can create challenges to their development and school readiness. Before the birth of a child, the developing brain architecture of a fetus can be disrupted by poor maternal nutrition, exposure to a variety of hazardous substances and the adverse physiological effects of a pregnant woman’s chronic stress.

Access to prenatal health care can help identify such high-risk circumstances and provide a vehicle for addressing hazards to healthy brain development in a preventive fashion. After birth, providing access to a regular and affordable source of primary health care for mothers, infants and children is important in helping to prevent threats to the child’s healthy development, as well as provide early detection and intervention for concerns that could lead to more serious problems later in a child’s physical, developmental and mental health.

A growing body of evidence shows that emotional development begins early in life and is a critical aspect of the development of a child’s overall brain architecture, with enormous consequences over the course of a lifetime. A child’s emotional well-being and social competence provide a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities, and together they are the bricks and mortar that comprise the foundation of human development.

From birth, children rapidly develop their abilities to experience and express different emotions as well as their capacity to cope with and manage a variety of feelings. The development of these capabilities occurs at the same time as a wide range of highly visible skills in mobility (motor control), thinking (cognition), and communication (language). Yet, social-emotional development often receives relatively less recognition as a core emerging capacity in the early childhood years. The foundations of social competence developed in the first five years are linked to emotional well-being and affect a child’s later ability to functionally adapt in school and to form successful relationships throughout life.

3. Parenting Leadership:
All parents need the support of good community systems to help themselves help their children. Across Michigan, parents of young children lack easy access to information and resources that will help them be their child’s first and most important teacher.

Parenting Leadership in the Great Start System is a continuum of services and supports ranging from parent education for parents in the critical role they play in the healthy development of their infants and other young children, to parents as leaders who advocate for their own children as well as the needs of other young children.

4. Early Care and Education:
High quality child care and early education experiences are critical to every young child’s development. Research has clearly demonstrated that children’s early learning experiences determine their foundation for future learning and success. Children who have high quality child care and preschool experiences, including support for health and emotional well-being, are more successful in later school years, are less likely to repeat a grade, are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, and become productive citizens.