Upper Peninsula Great Start to Quality Resource Center Receives 2013 Fierce Heart Award

LANSING – In recognition of outstanding work, the Upper Peninsula Great Start to Quality Resource Center has been named this year’s top “Fierce Heart” organization for young children in Michigan by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.

The Fierce Heart award honors individuals and organizations that show unwavering dedication to the Great Start vision and take relentless action at the national, state and/or local levels to bring that vision to reality.

The Upper Peninsula Great Start to Quality Resource Center was honored for its outstanding commitment and dedication in implementing Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s new program helping early childhood providers—those working in licensed child care and preschool programs —improve the quality of their programs while helping families find the best early learning settings for their children. The Great Start to Quality Resource Centers support programs wit quality improvement efforts and resources.

"The Upper Peninsula has managed the transitions and participation in Great Start to Quality so well," said Sheri Butters. “Director Deb Dupras leads an amazing team that supports programs with resources and consultation, and works hard to help those participating improve their quality levels."

The Upper Peninsula Resource Center covers 12 of 15 counties in the U.P. In addition to Dupras, there are two consultants and four specialists who work with the 292 centers, homes and group homes that provide child care in that region.

The quality improvement rating system is tied to Michigan’s quality standards for early learning programs, awarding quality stars from one to five, with five being the highest quality. The system gives parents throughout Michigan an independent objective and consistent assessment of program quality—consumer information they previously lacked.

“It’s all about relationship building,” said Dupras. “That’s what we do in the U.P. That’s who we are. We know our providers well.”

Dupras said that she is extremely honored that the work of the U.P. Great Start Resource Center has been recognized.

The committee that made the selection noted that the U.P. Great Start to Quality Resource Center team created guidance documents, held special training sessions, and diligently worked with programs to help promote the importance of quality and participation in Great Start to Quality. The committee also noted that the team maintained a positive perspective and outlook through the first year transitions.

“It goes back to the fact that we have great collaboration throughout the region, including our Collaborative Directors and Parent Liaisons sharing the message at their meetings,” Dupras said. “Receiving the award speaks to the fact that we’re all on the same page and that we have a vested interested in seeing that our little ones have the best start that they can possibly have.”

The award is presented by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, an independent, publicly owned nonprofit that helps Michigan rebuild its economy by delivering better education, health and economic outcomes through effective early childhood development.

The Investment Corporation is developing and implementing Great Start to Quality on behalf of the Michigan Department of Education Office of Great Start, which oversees public early learning programs.

The Great Start Fierce Heart Award was established in December 2009 by the Investment Corporation, each year two awards are given.