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Kalamazoo Gazette columnist Julie Mack - a long-time backer of early childhood efforts - wrote this week about Upjohn researcher Tim Bartik's new book, "Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development."

INDIAN RIVER – Kim Stahl is forever mindful that each day is “a learning experience” for young children. As a result, she’s constantly searching for new ways to inspire their development. It was with this thought in mind that Stahl entered a national contest for child care providers that required applicants to describe how they would improve learning for the youngsters in their care.

Each year, 650 to 800 TEACH scholarships -- totaling $800,000 this past year -- are handed out in Michigan to boost child care providers’ employment opportunities and to lift up a profession that’s traditionally been low paying. As scholarship programs go, it has an exceptional 85 percent completion rate -- a high number of recipients finish their educational programs.

President Barack Obama devoted a sizable chunk of his State of the Union address Tuesday to education, and while he didn't specifically mention early childhood programs, he did reference the Race to the Top initiative, of which early childhood was a key component.

LANSING – Thirty thousand Michigan children are better off today thanks to a massive safety training effort involving nearly 20,000 unlicensed Michigan child care providers.

IONIA - Starfish pins and stories about the “power of one” are spreading like wildfire through Ionia County, and Cari O’Connor, director of the Ionia County Great Start Collaborative, couldn’t be happier.

When Gov. Rick Snyder, in his first State of the State address, said it was "time to start talking about P-20 instead of just K-12," early childhood advocates cheered, but others probably scratched their heads and wondered, "P-20, what the heck is that?"

LANSING - In his first State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder called for the creation of a new public school model in Michigan that includes children "from pre-natal to lifelong learning."

If you're a supporter of continued investment in early childhood in Michigan, what should you do after tonight's State of the State address by Gov. Rick Snyder? Michigan's Sandbox Party has the answer. Follow this link to the Sandbox Party website, then click on the State of the State tab for tips on what to listen for in the debate discussion questions and ways you can get involved once the speech is over.

LANSING – More than $2 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will create a select team of quality improvement specialists to train and coach child care providers across Michigan, the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) announced today.

In a January 15th commentary in The Grand Rapids Press, two of west Michigan's biggest business names called on the state's new lawmakers to fund early childhood efforts despite budget woes.

Gov. Rick Snyder will make his first State of the State address this evening (Wednesday, January 19) at 7 p.m. Michigan Government TV will begin its coverage at 6 p.m. To watch, follow this link.

ST. JOSEPH -- According to the U.S. Census, 74,738 Michigan grandparents had primary responsibility for their grandchildren in 2008. Irene Gunnink of St. Joseph County is among them, and knows how hard the job is, especially without a little support.

DETROIT – David A. Hansell, a top official for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has returned to Washington, D.C., with first-hand appreciation of the work and challenges of child care and 0-5 education in Michigan.

DETROIT – In neighborhoods across Detroit, there is an evolution in the way adults view the first five years of life and their impact on children’s future success.

SOUTHFIELD - In a meeting room at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Southfield, parents meet to share their concerns about raising children and finding support in their community. It’s called a Parent Café, an initiative started by members of the Oakland County Great Start Collaborative to benefit local parents. And it’s spreading.

LANSING – Did you know that sending kids outdoors to play does more than help them relax? The fresh air and exercise also helps them develop healthy sleep rhythms. That information isn’t necessarily “breaking news” but it is helpful to parents and child care providers, which is why it’s included as part of a new series of 42 one-minute, child-focused vignettes created by Detroit Public Television (DPTV).

HOLLAND – Head trauma caused by violent shaking, often referred to as Shaken Baby Syndrome, accounts for half of all baby deaths in the U.S. Now, thousands of West Michigan parents and child care providers are taking part in a national study that aims to create a “cultural change” in the way adults respond to inconsolable crying by infants.

MENOMINEE - For 21 years, Judge William A. Hupy has served in Menominee County courtrooms. From the bench he sees truants and delinquents, broken families and children who have lost their purpose and direction. Now he hopes that his work with the Menominee County Great Start Collaborative will make for fewer young people in the county's court system.

LANSING – Hundreds of low-income children in two of Michigan’s hardest hit communities will have fuller tummies this holiday season thanks to a new holiday food drive by early childhood advocates.