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Building a great start for children in our community

A child’s brain begins to develop rapidly prior to birth and continues during the first eight years of life. During this time important ground work is laid that impacts the child’s future learning, health and overall well-being. The child’s development is greatly impacted by their environment, experiences and social-emotional connections. Parents and caregivers need tools and resources to support healthy early childhood development.

Research has shown that investing time, money and resources in early childhood has the biggest impact on child well-being and return on investment for the community.

Early childhood programs, education and services have been shown to improve school readiness, increase early language and literacy skills and empower families to be self-sufficient. In addition, research supports that these early interventions improve long-term outcomes for the families and children which have resulted in fewer grades repeated in the K-12 system and reduced social cost (welfare, crime, incarceration).

Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD) is investing in these critical early years by working with a network of parents, community leaders, business owners, charitable and faith-based organizations, health and human service agencies and educators.

This network, known as the Copper Country Great Start Collaborative (CCGSC) wants to see every child in Baraga, Houghton and Keweenaw counties to be safe, healthy, and eager to succeed in school and in life. The mission of the CCGSC is to coordinate an early childhood system that supports all families in providing a great start for their children from pre-birth through age 8.

In 2008, the CCGSC began working to develop a cohesive early childhood system to provide families with access to high-quality early childhood education, childcare, health and nutrition programs, parenting education, social-emotional development and other early childhood supports and services. By creating access for parents and caregivers to the support, knowledge, tools and resources they need, children are given the opportunity thrive. This collaborative group focuses on four early childhood outcomes:

* Children are born healthy;

* Children are healthy, thriving and developmentally on track from birth to third grade;

* Children are developmentally ready to succeed in school at time of school entry;

* Children are prepared to succeed in fourth grade and beyond by reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

More than 30 organizations, businesses and individuals participate with the CCGSC in this community-wide effort to make the Copper Country a great place to raise a family. This effort has worked to coordinate professional development for early childhood professionals, develop events and programs that support social-emotional development, provide leadership training for parents, increase awareness of the childcare shortage, build resiliency in families, promote early literacy and educate the community about the impact of trauma. The group has developed a network of parents and early childhood professionals that are dedicated to reaching parents of young children. In addition, members of the CCGSC have worked together on multiple grants that have significant financial investment into early childhood in the Copper Country. To learn more about the Copper Country Great Start Collaborative or how you can become involved contact Iola Brubaker, CCGSC Director, at ccgreatstart@gmail.com.

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