Hands Connected program awarded millage funds to provide safe sleep and car seat education to refugee families

April 27, 2022

Kent County, MI – Bethany Christian Services was awarded $188,495 from First Steps Kent’s Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage to provide safe sleep and car seat education to newly resettled refugee families through Bethany’s Hands Connected program.

Hands Connected provides culturally and linguistically responsive early childhood education and care by training and supporting resettled refugees to open and operate their own childcare business. Program participants receive individualized training, financial support, home and business setup, and licensing assistance.

The two-year grant will fund state-certified training for eight refugee individuals who will participate in 40 hours of car seat training with Secure Quest to become certified car seat safety instructors. Additionally, they will learn safe sleep training techniques for infants through Haddie’s Calling.

“Equal access to resources and services promoting positive early childhood outcomes is critical for families in West Michigan,” said Kim Sturgeon, Program Manager of Hands Connected. “Having trained parent safety specialists who speak multiple languages and come from various cultural backgrounds creates a network of support for our diverse community, allowing resettled families to access resources that can help their families thrive.”

Parent safety specialists will officially begin to provide in-home training and free car-seat installation with refugee families starting May 2. Those interested in connecting with a trained safety specialist can learn more by contacting Zaituni Mnubi, program coordinator, at [email protected]

About Bethany Christian Services Bethany Christian Services is a global nonprofit that supports children and families with world-class social services, all designed to help families thrive. Over 75 years ago, we began our work by serving a single child. Today, we work in more than 30 states and around the world, impacting hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

About the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage The Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage provides dedicated and sustainable funding for programs that improve the health, school readiness, and well-being of children \age five and younger in Kent County. First Steps Kent is the administrator of the Ready by Five millage funds. First Steps Kent is an independent non-profit that works to strengthen and coordinate the system of early childhood services through research and innovation. First Steps is leading a community-wide effort to develop a system of support for children ages 0-5 (and their families) that ensures every young child in Kent County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and in life.