Did you catch us on WDIV Local 4: Live in the D? Starfish media stars Kecia Rorie (Deputy Director, Thrive by Five), Sherry Rowe (Head Start teacher, Covenant House), and Lance Reed (Education, Curriculum and Disability Manager Birth to Five Program) made an appearance to talk more about Thrive by Five. They even showed host Tati Amare how parents can make Play-Doh at home and how they can help their children develop fine motor skills. Our community kids are definitely getting a head start on life at Thrive by Five Detroit!
WDIV Local 4 recently featured our very own Lance Reed (Education, Curriculum and Disability Manager Birth to Five Program) on their What’s the Buzz segment. With kids about to head back to school, the topic appropriately was: “How Do You Get Into the School Spirit?”
The burning question: What is the biggest mistake that parents make when it comes to their kids on the first day of school? According to Lance, “In early childhood development schools, we often see separation anxiety with not only the children, but the parents as well. The biggest mistake we see is the parents staying around too long. Drop the kids off so that we can begin to build that bond and build that safety net so that they can start to trust us.”
WDIV Local 4 aired a special segment on July 22, 2018, about the amazing partnership between Beaumont Health and Starfish Family Services and how it has been a benefit to new mothers in the community. Sandra Ali, who was the emcee at Starfish’s Great Hearts Gala in May, spoke with the family featured during the event presentation.
The program pairs new mothers with Infant Mental Health Therapists to guide and support them through motherhood. Watch the video below:
INKSTER, MICH. (July 10, 2018) — Starfish Family Services (Starfish) is pleased to announce it has received a $50,000 grant from the GCH Heritage Foundation. The grant will specifically support Starfish’s early childhood programs with a multidisciplinary approach designed to address unmet developmental delays in children throughout Wayne County. In 2016, the GCH Heritage Foundation awarded Starfish a $65,000 grant to assist in the startup of this essential community service.
Early intervention for children with mild to moderate developmental delays is vital. If ignored, even the mildest delay may progress into more extensive and serious problems. Unfortunately, many children from families with limited resources “fall through the cracks” because their issues are not severe enough for insurance companies or school systems to cover assessment and treatment costs.
“It is our desire to support these families, and for every child to have a success story,” said Ann Kalass, Starfish Chief Executive Officer. “The first five years of a child’s life are critical due to rapid brain growth. If early delays are left untreated, a child is at risk for falling even further behind.”
Starfish early intervention team members represent multiple disciplines, including mental health therapists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and teachers. The team works in tandem to conduct a comprehensive developmental and behavioral assessment and to develop a customized plan of action for each child. Starfish team members also work in close collaboration with parents and caregivers to provide ongoing consultations and interactive parent and child group opportunities. The goal is to ensure that the entire family has the tools to help a child to thrive.
“The initial results have demonstrated the tremendous opportunities this program provides to address some critical needs of children in our community and the Foundation was very pleased to provide this grant to help continue its worthy mission,” said Gary Ley, Executive Director of the GCH Heritage Foundation. “Starfish has an outstanding track record of providing comprehensive, quality family health services that give young children a chance for a healthier start in life,” continued Ley. “We are excited to support this creative program.”
About Starfish Family Services: Founded in 1963, Starfish Family Services (Starfish) is a private, nonprofit human service agency, recognized as a champion for at-risk families in metropolitan Detroit. Serving over 2,000 children and their families daily, our mission is to strengthen families to create brighter futures for children. We provide high-quality programs and support services that focus on early childhood development, mental health wellness, and empowering parents. Through our family-centric, integrated approach, we supply access to the right resources at the right time so that our community clients transition from crisis to self-sufficiency and long-term success. For more information, contact Marketing & Communication Manager Kelle Sisung at email@example.com See also: www.starfishonline.org.
About GCH Heritage Foundation: The GCH Heritage Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation, committed to building healthier communities through philanthropic efforts. Our focus is on inspiring new and creative methods of providing healthcare and social services, with an emphasis on programs for children under 18 years of age. The Foundation was originally a subsidiary of Garden City Hospital, but became independent and repurposed itself after the hospital was sold to a for-profit entity. Proceeds from the sale created the initial capital funding for the Foundation and members of the community continue their long-standing financial support. For more information, contact Executive Director Gary Ley, firstname.lastname@example.org
LaQuanda Murphy is counting down the months until September.
That’s when her four-year-old son, Kaycen, will qualify for free preschool through the state’s Great Start Readiness Program. It’s a big deal to the Saginaw area single mother for two reasons: her son will get a high-quality education, and her $500 monthly bill for childcare will disappear.
“I definitely feel it in my pocketbook,” said Murphy, 29, who works for the U.S. Postal Service. “It all just boils down to readjusting, because I have to do it.”
While Michigan provides free, state-funded preschool for 4-year-olds from low-to-moderate-income families, it offers little financial help for families with children ages three and younger.
Research has shown that children’s brains develop rapidly from birth to age three – making early childhood learning an important stepping stone. High-quality childcare promotes strong social, emotional and language development, putting children on the path to success by the time they enter kindergarten.
It’s a lack of investment that hurts families and the economy, experts say.
Often, it means struggling families must settle for lower-quality care – such as a family friend or neighbor down the street – rather than a licensed program. Or parents must cut back on their hours on the job or stay out of the workforce entirely.
“Parents across the economic spectrum in Michigan are challenged with childcare costs,” said Matt Gillard, President and CEO of Michigan’s Children, an advocacy group focusing on the needs of low-income children and families. “Parents want high-quality childcare opportunities for their children when they’re at work. Policy makers need to do a better job of prioritizing that.”
A significant expense
High-quality childcare can be one of the most significant expenses families face.
In Michigan, the cost of care for an infant – typically the most expensive age – averages $10,281 per-year at a childcare center and $7,179 at a private, home-based provider, according to Childcare Aware of America, an advocacy group.
If you’re looking for help footing the bill, chances are you don’t qualify. The state of Michigan provides assistance, but only for some of the poorest families.
Currently, that’s families at 130 percent or less of the federal poverty rate. For a family of three, that translates into an annual income of roughly $26,600.
It’s one of the most restrictive income eligibility requirements in the nation.
Fourteen other states, including Ohio, Indiana, Maryland and Alabama, don’t provide help to a family of three with an annual income above $30,630, according to a 2017 study from the National Women’s Law Center.
“This is putting pressure on families,” said Pat Sorenson, a senior policy analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy, a progressive think tank focusing on social issues. “The child care system is so grossly underfunded in this state.”
(This map shows average childcare costs by county in 2015. Source: Michigan League for Public Policy.)
There are states, however, where childcare assistance is a far different story.
Take Maine, for example, where a family of three can earn an annual income of $54,589 and still qualify for assistance, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Murphy wishes Michigan would help more families shoulder the expense.
She’s been bringing her son, Kaycen, to Building Blocks Childcare & Preschool in Saginaw since he was three. She’s thrilled with the care and education he receives there. He’s built friendships, strengthened his social skills and learned about numbers and words.
“It’s so important because he’s learning so many skills that I would not be able to teach him one-on-one,” she said. “He’s learning something new every day.”
Murphy isn’t looking for a “handout,” but says paying her monthly bill has kept her from putting more money aside for goals like paying off her car and saving for her family’s future.
“If we ever hit a hardship, I want to be ahead of the curve,” she said. “I don’t want to be just riding the wave.”
High quality care
Differences between high- and low-quality childcare aren’t tough to spot.
High-quality providers create a stimulating environment. They plan for each day, designing games that incorporate counting and literacy, such as matching words to letters and sounds.
Good providers also help children develop strong social skills, so they can better deal with conflict and have fewer outbursts when they don’t get their way, said Tomoko Wakabayashi, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Child Studies at Oakland University.
“The kids gain the skill of thinking for themselves, critically thinking, regulating their behavior, those kinds of foundational skills that would be important as they transition into school,” she said.
Often, such programs are taught by educators with an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development.
For infants and toddlers, high-quality care means a warm, nurturing environment where children are safe to explore and learn through games and other activities. Individual attention is paramount, with state quality guidelines recommending no more than three infants or toddlers for every adult.
Such care is often pricey.
Heather and Colt Dykstra feel the expense every month.
The couple – she’s a special education teacher and he works at Arcadia Brewing Company in Kalamazoo – estimate they fork over upwards of $1,000 a month to send their one-year-old daughter to the at Borgess Child Development Center in Kalamazoo.
It’s not necessarily breaking their bank account. But when combined with other expenses – a home mortgage, groceries and car payments – the couple doesn’t have much wiggle room left in their budget.
“It’s frustrating because it costs so much,” said Heather Dykstra, 32, who lives in Richland. “I definitely wish that one of us could stay home. That’s not really possible.”
The federal government’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs provides free care for families with children from birth to age 5. But the income requirements are even stricter than Michigan’s.
A family of three, for instance, cannot have an annual income higher than $20,420 per year to qualify.
Nicole Liggins has seen the struggle to pay for childcare play out firsthand.
She owns Building Blocks Childcare & Preschool in Saginaw, and she prides herself on the quality of care she provides. Her employees have degrees or certificate in early childhood education, class sizes are kept small, and children participate in games and activities designed to build their social skills and teach them about math, literacy, science and art.
But such care costs money.
Liggins estimates that 70 percent of her families receive state or federal assistance to help pay the weekly tuition rate, which ranges between $100 to $140 per child.
Those who have to pay on their own can struggle. There’s been times when she’s had to discontinue care for families who can’t afford the service, she said.
“It breaks my heart,” said Liggins, who has owned Building Blocks for close to five years. “But I have a business to run.”
When a family meets Michigan’s income eligibility requirement for childcare assistance, the state provides that assistance in the form of a reimbursement to childcare providers.
Last year, that reimbursement totaled $828 per month for a 1-year-old, according to a study by the National Women’s Law Center.
In some instances, that’s not enough to cover the full cost of care.
The center estimates childcare for a 1-year-old in Michigan has a market rate of $1,027 per month.
“The subsidies aren’t big enough,” Ann Kalass, CEO of Starfish Family Services, a nonprofit childcare provider serving metropolitan Detroit.
Families could be getting a little more help moving forward.
Michigan is expected to receive an additional $65 million in federal funding for childcare assistance this year. And state lawmakers are taking steps to use that funding to expand eligibility – to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
That translates into $30,630 for a family of three.
Advocates are pleased with the increase, but they say more work is to align Michigan’s income eligibility levels with leading states.
“Even if they are eligible for a subsidy, some families may not have the resources needed to purchase high-quality care or more expensive infant care,” said Sorenson, of the Michigan League for Public Policy.
“This is about getting children prepared for the future,” she said.