Getting Back to "Normal"?

After all of the social distancing, Zoom meetings, and virtual classes, getting back to normal sounds appealing. There is a sense of optimism that normal is on the horizon in Kent County. Normal school. Normal work. Normal gatherings. A return to normal feels comfortable.

Normal, though, has never been comfortable for thousands of children and families in our community. A rush back to normal is a return to longstanding and persistent inequities that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and further exposed by the nation’s increased focus on racial justice. Read more.

Family Wealth and Income

A fast-growing population. A strong economy. A booming housing market. The Grand Rapids area has become a highly desirable destination for many people, recognized for its economic opportunities and quality of life. However, the opportunities – and the prosperity they offer – are not evenly or equitably available.

Early Care and Education

All young children need loving relationships, a nurturing environment, quality health care, and stimulating learning experiences. Evidence-based services and supports are proven to help parents be the best parents they can be and help children arrive at school health, developmentally on track, and ready to learn.

Housing Stability

Home should be a safe, healthy, and nurturing place for a young child to explore, learn, and grow. However, far too many children in Kent County – disproportionately children of color – have no place to call home. Homelessness and housing insecurity threaten the start in life all children in our community need and deserve.

Pregnancy & Birth Equity

By almost every measure, Black women and babies fare worse through pregnancy and infancy than mothers and babies of other races or ethnicities.

  • Black mothers are two to three times more likely than White mothers to die in childbirth or face serious complications.
  • Black infants are more than twice as likely as White babies to die before their first birthday or be born at a low birthweight, which can have long-term impact on a child’s health, development, and learning.
  • Birth outcomes for Latinx mothers and babies are not as good as for their White counterparts but are far better than for Black women and infants.