Children & Youth Impacts: Helping Create a Solid Foundation for Children


May 29, 2019

The Issue

The future of Michigan depends on the success of its children; the knowledge and skills they develop today will have an impact on their ability to lead later in life. Research shows that the possession of skills such as verbal and nonverbal communication, ability to work cooperatively, a sense of responsibility and respect, community involvement, decision-making and problem-solving are all predictors of not only academic success but also of success in the community and workforce. Since the development of these basic life skills begins in early childhood, it is vital that parents and caregivers are equipped with the tools to help children embrace these skills and learn to grow, thrive and contribute in a complex and changing world.

MSU Extension Action

To help address this critical area of need, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension provides early childhood programs that help parents, childcare providers, and other important adults in the lives of children from birth to age 8 develop important skills. By teaching adults how to support young children’s social and emotional skills, they also enable these adults to support learning for success in school and life. In 2018, these programs were delivered to nearly 3,300 parents and caregivers who influence more than 27,000 children and youth on a daily basis.

“I will now be more consistent with consequences and discussing them before misbehavior. I will try to better role model how to handle conflict and big emotions.” Early childhood education program participant

The Impact

As a result of MSU Extension early childhood development programs, adults increased their knowledge of basic concepts that promote school readiness and positive life skills development during early childhood stages of life, helping to ensure children have a solid foundation for future success. This important community-based education provides guidance and support for adults and families throughout Michigan.

Impact by the Numbers

  • Nearly 3,300 parents and caregivers received MSU Extension early childhood programs.
  • Nearly 27,000 children and youth reached by adults served.

Of those surveyed:

  • 57% showed an increase in techniques to help children learn.
  • 49% felt more prepared to support learning and growth in children.
  • 35% increased their understanding of the importance of supporting a child's learning.

Positioning parents for success

MSU Extension’s Guiding Principles for Highly Successful Parenting series helps parents explore ways that they can be most effective in raising their children to be successful in school and in life. Over the course of five weeks, series attendees learn about topics such as creating family routines, developing emotional control in children, becoming calm and assertive parents, establishing consistent rules and relationships, learning from mistakes and developing empathy.

In 2018, 96 families took part in a Guiding Principles program. After participating, families showed statistically significant increases in family functioning, positive parent-child relationships and parents’ knowledge about child development. These essential elements are critical in supporting the positive development of children and helping them to develop a solid base for later in life.

In addition to evaluation data, class participants shared in their own words the value of Guiding Principles:

  •  “I want to thank you for giving me new tools to deal with issues. [The program was] motivating and honestly makes me happier as a parent."I will be more patient and calm when dealing with my child. I will also focus more on consequences than punishments."
  • “It helped me think about the foundation needed to create stability.”
“[I learned] every child has his or her own way of dealing with and understanding the world. With small steps and repeating, you can mold a child to be a person of society.” Early childhood education program participant

In 2018, the state’s $63.1 million investment in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension generated more than $1 billion for Michigan residents. Every dollar the state invested in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension resulted in an additional $2.26 leveraged in federal funds and external contracts, grants and other revenues, as well as $5.80 in additional community benefits. As a result, MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch are able to serve Michigan residents with a benefit/cost ratio of 16:1.

These cost benefits are huge, but they are not the only benefits that MSU Extension brings to the state. Through Michigan 4-H Youth Development, more than 203,000 youth learn compassion, respect, leadership skills, responsibility, the value of hard work and other critical abilities. In addition, MSU Extension early childhood education programs prepare thousands of Michigan’s youngest children for school success. Learn how you can contribute to this type of programming at:


Tags: 4-h, early childhood development

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