United Methodist Community Church (UMCH) and Family Promise of Grand Rapids (FPGR) collaboration will provide West Michigan families access to affordable childcare, education, resources, and more.
Grand Rapids, Michigan – United Methodist Community House (UMCH) announced an expansion of its childcare model in partnership with Family Promise of Grand Rapids. This partnership aims to provide wraparound support and resources for families with children in the UMCH Child Development Center (CDC). Early experiences within a child’s life have a lifelong impact on both health and learning. The partnership will enable UMCH to better support child success through family success.
“Family stability is extremely important for children to find success,” said Carla Moore, Chief Operations Officer at UMCH. “We understand from years of research how much critical development is happening while students are in our care. We want to ensure their environment is optimized, which will help to set them up for success later in life. This partnership looks at the family as a whole and helps to provide families with the tools they need to be successful.”
UMCH will welcome a member of FPGR to their staff to serve as the Family Engagement Specialist. Mackenzie Vilmont will work alongside families and children in UMCH’s Child Development Center (CDC) to add additional capacity to their lives through affordable childcare and family resources that help to create a thriving family dynamic. The UMCH and FPGR partnership will help to create success for families and their children despite racial disparities. As a result of this role, UMCH will add play-and-learn groups that will host activities for families to complete together, along with a Parent Engagement Committee that will focus on becoming involved with their own children’s development.
“We have always had a great partnership with UMCH, and as our partnership grew, we started asking how we could combine our strengths to positively impact more children in Kent County,” said Cheryl Schuch, CEO at Family Promise. “We're excited to have an FPGR Family Engagement Specialist housed at UMCH to provide classroom support as well as child and parent support. When we connect families to community resources and identify early interventions for children, that family unit grows stronger and continues to stabilize and thrive. Partnering with UMCH was a no-brainer. They do great work with kids and families, and we are excited to assist more families and children in Kent County.”
For decades, there has been research on the import role childcare has on later life success. A study from the Urban Institute noted, “For infants, changes in child care arrangements can lead to poor attachment with providers and problem behaviors. For preschoolers, early care and education settings support children’s development of foundational school readiness skills; changes in care settings can disrupt the continuity of learning. For school-age children, changes in schools impede children’s academic progress and decrease social competence.”
“This partnership has been in the works for the past few years,” noted Moore. “It is fortunate that we are able to fully launch this initiative in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic because, though families are struggling, we are here to provide additional support.”
Family Promise provides emergency shelter and basic needs to families with children who are experiencing homelessness. They work with families to help them find a place to call home and ensure they don’t become homeless again. The two organizations plan to expand their partnership in the coming months with hopes of serving a greater number of families.
About United Methodist Community House
The United Methodist Community House (UMCH)’s mission is to increase the ability of children, youth, adults, and families to succeed in a diverse community. Since 1902, UMCH has met the needs of and offered opportunities to community members to help them increase their opportunities to succeed. Located in the heart of Grand Rapids, UMCH is committed to serving a diverse population and is continually adapting its programming to best serve those who need it most—the community.
About Family Promise of Grand Rapids
Family Promise partners with families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by helping them get back on their feet so they can create a stable lifestyle for their children. Family Promise has helped over 4,000 children and 1,500 families build a strong foundation for their family’s future by providing emergency services, permanent housing, case management, mentoring, and furniture donation services. With the help of our IHN network and over 2,000 volunteers, our families have found futures full of hope and possibility. For additional information visit, https://www.familypromisegr.org/