The Hastings Mutual Insurance Company Charitable Foundation recognizes the contributions of nonprofit organizations in the communities we serve. Each month, we’ll honor one of those organizations as our Nonprofit of the Month.
Child Development Services of Ottawa County is behind Lakeshore Head Start, a preschool program for Ottawa and northern Allegan counties in west Michigan.
Founded in 1966, Child Development Services continues to offer care for local families who have few other options. They feature low-cost child care, and a free preschool program. There are six locations throughout Ottawa County that reach more than 450 children up to 5 years old each year. Programs are available for part of a day or an entire day, year-round. Families with the youngest children, up to age 3, can even participate in home visits, where Child Development Services staff talk with parents about child development and social interaction.
Child Development Services helps not only the children, but their parents as well. They can assist with needs like food and clothing, and also support to complete a GED or other education. They’re able to help about 400 families every year. “We let them know when funding is available,” said Lesly Alvarez, Family Services Manager at Child Development Services of Ottawa County. “We work to get them out of the cycle of poverty. We’re meeting not just the child’s needs, but the whole family’s needs.”
Lakeshore Head Start programs work closely with Ottawa County schools. There’s regular testing for kindergarten readiness, with more than 75 percent of 4-year-olds meeting or exceeding expectations for performance in every area (social-emotional, physical development, language, cognitive, literacy, and math).
Child Development Services of Ottawa County is supported by Berends Hendricks Stuit Agency in Grandville, Michigan.
“(We’re glad to) support this very worthy cause, helping some of our community’s most vulnerable children and their families,” said Thomas L. Stuit of Berends Hendricks Stuit.
For more on Child Development Services of Ottawa County and the Lakeshore Head Start program, visit their website.