The problem: one in four children under the age of five are living in poverty in Macomb County, there are 57 main languages spoken at homes in the county and more than 50 percent of children not attending a preschool program before entering kindergarten.
The solution: Great Start of Macomb, which is part of statewide initiative that supports families and children 0-5 so they can start school ready to learn and succeed.
Great Start, which is primarily funded by the state and a number or Michigan-based foundations, was created in 2004 to restructure the state’s investment in children.
The Macomb Chapter opened in 2008 and connects parents with local organizations such as the Health Department, faith-based communities, the Macomb Literacy Program and the Angel House just to name a few, with elected officials.
“Basically, anyone who has to do with young children and where those children are going,” said Karen Olsen Great Start Collaborative Coordinator.
Great Start of Macomb recently met with four Macomb County state representatives and two aids at the to educate them on the many resources available for parents who are struggling with a variety of issues from detecting early learning disorders to developmental and emotional deficiencies.
“What’s nice about this group is they don’t have a burning issue right now. They just want to let us know about it,” said freshman State Rep. Anthony Forlini, who represents St. Clair Shores, Harrison Township and Grosse Pointe Shores.
There are 50,000 children under the age of five in Macomb County, which makes up six percent of the population and future.
"We want to make sure no kids fall through the cracks," said State Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township. "We do have the programs for them and hopefully they can utilize them."
The representatives agreed to spread the word about Great Start Macomb’s programs through their literature and websites.
“We want to put more emphasis on this program," said Goike.
For more information on Great Start Macomb, visit www.GreatStartMacomb.org.