Ready for College, Ready for Work, Ready for Life: The Capital Area Birth to Work Framework
The Birth to Work Framework goal: By 2020 all children, youth, and young adults in the Capital Area will grow up with the skills and abilities to actively participate in the global knowledge economy.
Thriving children, a skilled workforce, and a healthy regional economy go hand in hand. Successful transitions from early to middle childhood and adolescence lay the foundation for success in adulthood.
Operating from this premise, the Capital Area Birth to Work Framework combines the resources of the Capital Area community— represented by the Power of We Consortium (PWC) and Michigan State University—to promote positive transitions for all children through three critical periods of development: early childhood, middle childhood/early adolescence, and late adolescence/early adulthood.
Because success in each of these critical transitions requires that children have access to multiple supports and opportunities, the Framework's ultimate goal is to effect change at all levels of the community systems that support young people's development—that is, families, neighborhoods, organizations, and communities. The emphasis is on integrating and improving existing systems for each transition stage, rather than superimposing new ones, to form a seamless web of supports at key points in development.
The Birth to Work Framework focuses on systems that support all vulnerable children, with a special emphasis on those living in areas of concentrated poverty. Partners utilizing the Framework believe that given appropriate supports and opportunities, all children can successfully meet the inevitable challenges to development and thrive. However, those who face extreme adversity related to poverty and/or racial discrimination are exposed to multiple risk factors and often lack access to supports and opportunities in their neighborhoods that would enable them to reach their full potential.
According to John Melcher, associate director of MSU's Center for Community and Economic Development, the partners have already taken steps to improve support systems by building an infrastructure and data tracking system, as well as engaging the community in needs assessment and planning.
Informed by the Birth to Work Framework, a coalition of local funders invested $700,000 over three years to implement the Great Start Strategic Plan. The coalition is engaging directly with neighborhood residents to ensure that change is community driven and to give historically underserved groups a voice in delivery systems reform. Community groups involved with each transition period, such as the Great Start Parent Coalition for early childhood and neighborhood youth councils for adolescents, facilitate local participation. Feedback from communitylevel outcome data and the experiences of families will be used to improve efforts.
PWC's partners include Ingham County/ City of Lansing Community Coalition for Youth (CCY); Ingham Great Start Collaborative (GSC), Birth to Five; Lansing Economic Area Partnership (Leap, Inc.); Capital Region Community Foundation; MSU Extension; and MSU University Outreach and Engagement.