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GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- An independent evaluation of an innovative approach to children’s health care in west Michigan has found the program is succeeding in significantly reducing the number of expensive emergency room visits and hospital admissions while improving kids’ health.

Children across American have fallen further behind in many of the leading indicators over the past year as the country slowly climbs out of the recession, according a new report by the Children's Defense Fund. The report provides key child data showing alarming numbers of youth at risk: children are the poorest age group with 15.5 million youth—one in every five children in America—living in poverty.

LANSING - Graduates of the state's preschool program are less likely to be held back a grade in school than children who don't attend preschool, according to an evaluation of the program.

The evaluation looked at data collected from a cohort of 596 children (338 graduates from the state's Great Start Readiness Program and 258 non- GSRP students) from six districts followed from kindergarten through 12th grade and from a sample of 865 children (384 GSRP and 481 non-GSRP) assessed in preschool or kindergarten.

What started as a front-porch potluck for friends more than 30 years ago has evolved into fund-raising garden parties this summer involving hundreds of early childhood advocates across the state. And children are the better for it.

Early childhood advocates are intrigued by a judge's ruling in a recent lawsuit that may lead to universal preschool in North Carolina. 

Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. issued an order Monday stating that the state cannot implement "any barrier or regulation that prevents eligible at-risk children from enrolling in the state's prekindergarten program, previously known as More at Four,"  according to the Charlotte, N.C., Observer. (Read the full story here.)

In his April address to the legislature on education reform, Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed the important role parents play as Michigan moves “toward an independent and successful future.”

Advocates for early childhood believe, like the Governor, that it is essential to engage parents in the work of developing Michigan’s early childhood system. That is why the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) prioritizes parenting leadership as one of the key components of school readiness.

A new Pew Center on the States report makes a strong case for investments in quality preschool as a primary method of improving educational outcomes in America.

The Michigan Sandbox Party will play host to families and early childhood supporters at minor league professional baseball parks across the state throughout July.

Low birth weight, preterm birth complications, and learning difficulties, are just a few potential impacts untreated maternal depression can have on a child's development. 

These facts are based on a recently released Zero to Three Research to Policy Project report on Maternal Depression and Early Childhood which also says that "untreated depression is estimated to cost society at a minimum $23,000 per year in terms of lost productivity for both mother and child and increased health care costs." 

To read the entire report, click HERE.

LANSING – Making good on his promise to refashion education in Michigan along a cradle to adulthood model, Gov. Rick Snyder today signed an executive order creating an Office of Great Start within the Department of Education.

“Let’s Move! Child Care” - First Lady Michelle Obama’s newest campaign urging child care providers to join the fight against childhood obesity - is welcome news in Michigan, where one in three children is considered overweight or obese.

NORTH CAROLINA - When the nation’s largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies was looking for the latest ideas and innovations in early childhood they hit the mother lode in Michigan.

LANSING –State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan has named Joan Blough, ECIC vice president of Great Start System Planning and Evaluation, to head up the transition team for a new Michigan Office of Great Start.

This weekend millions of families will celebrate Father’s Day. Among other things, count on seeing bad neckties, macaroni pencil holders and cook-outs to celebrate. Whether Dad lives in the home or not, studies consistently show that fathers are more than just economic support. Being a father, an involved, caring father, matters.  

LANSING - ECIC executive committee member Anne M. Mervenne had a commentary on early childhood published in the editorial pages of the Lansing State Journal Monday June 13 under the headline "State leads in early childhood efforts." To read, click "Read More."

Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the U.S. Senate education committee, appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" news program and spoke forcefully about early childhood. To view the clip, click here.

Crain's Detroit Business this week published a commentary by David Hollister, senior vice president for strategic initiatives for the Prima Civitas Foundation and an executive committee member of the Early Childhood Investment Corp. The text of the commentary follows. For a link to Crain's, click here.

DETROIT – A series of one-minute videos that focuses on learning experiences inside the home has earned a 2010 Michigan Emmy Award for community and public service.

LANSING – The Michigan House and Senate on Thursday passed a state budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 that is a mixed bag for early childhood. The bills now await Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - State early learning programs will get their shot at $500 million in Race to the Top funding, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced Wednesday, May 25.