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Early childhood education needs aren't being met in several Grand Rapids neighborhoods

Jan 23, 2018

The need for subsidized and Head Start care isn't being met in Grand Rapids. That's according to a recent study by the Chicago-based non-profit IFF.

The study of 2016 data found the need for subsidized and Head Start care isn't being met in Grand Rapids.

The study also found most of that need, roughly 72%, is concentrated in only a third of the city's neighborhoods.

IFF Director of Early Childhood Services Monica Duncan says cities should focus on neighborhoods with the highest needs.

“What we realized is that we need, overall in our highest needs communities in Grand Rapids, more opportunities for our children who are impoverished to experience care,” Duncan said.

Duncan says the biggest need is places for children 2 years old and younger.

“Grand Rapids actually has a surplus of care for children 3 to 5, but it’s those kids that are too young to qualify for those places that are really being left behind,” she said.

The study looks at Grand Rapids, but Duncan believes that it’s not just an issue for West Michigan.

“This is the pattern we can see all over the country, inner city kids don’t have as many resources. That’s why we took the time to do this study. We hope that will change,” she said.

Gina Martinez, a Research Associate with IFF, shares that concern. She also wants this data to be helpful for communities moving forward.

“I'm just really hopeful that this will spur action and making sure that this is a tool that people can use to discover what the needs are in the neighborhoods in Grand Rapids,” Martinez said.

You can read the full report at IFF.org.