National research by Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants and the Citizens Research Council showed that certain kinds of programs show strong returns on investment:
- Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby. A mother’s health directly affects that of her child, which in turn affects the baby’s learning ability. Kent County has been experimenting with something called a “Medical Home,” which connects doctors and nurses with expectant mothers and just-born children.
- Home Visits. Too many mothers are single, young, poor, uneducated and lacking in the kind of experience in parenting that extended families offered in the past. Home visits by nurses and other experienced professionals can help confused and often frightened young mothers learn the enormously important skills of parenting that give their babies the best possible start in life.
- Good Child Care. Many parents need child care, especially when they’re working at jobs and trying to survive as a family. But “child care” as another name for cheap “babysitting” won’t hack it. Child caretakers need to be just as concerned and capable of dealing with a child’s learning development as a parent would be.