Our Top Stories

The question seemed simple enough: “Where does a tomato come from?” But the children’s replies were eye opening. “WalMart!” one child shouted excitedly. Most of the other children gathered at the Newaygo County Great Start Parent Coalition meeting in 2013 didn’t know the answer.

GRAND RAPIDS – New parents in Kent County have many resources available to help give their babies the best start, but connecting to them and finding services that best match their needs can be daunting.

ESCANABA – When five children suddenly left their school and community in 2011, members of the Delta-Schoolcraft Great Start Collaborative decided to take action.

A new Family Resource Center is being planned in Washtenaw County to help the area’s newly consolidated school district promote success from cradle to career.

A new language being spoken in northern Michigan is making a big differences for families, service providers, advocates, business leaders and entire communities.

BATTLE CREEK – Four years ago, the students at Woodlawn Preschool were a fairly homogenous bunch. They came from similar middle-class homes, shared similar levels of opportunity and similar ethnic backgrounds.

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

CLARE, MI – While traveling Clare and Gladwin counties to visit the homes of children and families enrolled in the state’s Early On program, coordinator Heather DuBois made a shocking discovery: Time after time she found young child with rotted teeth – baby teeth, no less.

The Great Start Initiative is aimed at making a difference in the first years of a child’s life – years that are critical to future development – through better health and mental health care, child care and early learning, parenting leadership, and family support. Understanding the status of young children in their community is a strategic part of the work conducted by each of the Great Start Collaboratives in Michigan. This is one in an ongoing series of articles that share the stories of how some Collaboratives are reacting to data about the status of young children in their community, and working to address those issues.

Members of the Sanilac County Great Start Collaborative were treated recently to a real-life representation of their efforts when a parade of preschoolers marched through a meeting while the “The Ants Go Marching In” rang through the room.

The Great Start Initiative is aimed at making a difference in the first years of a child’s life – years that are critical to future development – through better health and mental health care, child care and early learning, parenting leadership, and family support. Understanding the status of young children in their community is a strategic part of the work conducted by each of the  Great Start Collaboratives in Michigan. This is one in an ongoing series of articles that share the stories of how some Collaboratives are reacting to data about the status of young children in their community, and working to address those issues. 

DICKINSON-IRON — A combination of data from a wide variety of sources in recent years convinced the Great Start Collaborative in the Dickinson and Iron Counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that an early literacy initiative was imperative for their communities.

As a result, the 2013 Great Start Fund Development initiative was started to raise money for the purchase and distribution of children’s books through four initiatives. The goal is to raise $10,000 to buy 5,000 books by October 1.

 

The Great Start Initiative is aimed at making a difference in the first years of a child’s life – years that are critical to future development – through better health and mental health care, child care and early learning, parenting leadership, and family support. Understanding the status of young children in their community is a strategic part of the work conducted by each of the  Great Start Collaboratives in Michigan. This is one in an ongoing series of articles that share the stories of how some Collaboratives are reacting to data about the status of young children in their community, and working to address those issues. 

 
LIVINGSTON — Understanding the exact skills students are lacking when they start kindergarten and finding ways to fill those gaps has been an important part of the Great Start Livingston’s work over the past three years.
 
What began as conversations among a few teachers and school administrators in 2009 has grown into a survey tool for kindergarten teachers countywide and new outreach materials for parents, care givers and preschool teachers to better prepare students for school. 
 

 

Editor's note: The Early Childhood Investment Corporation has supported the efforts of Michigan communities to implement a Children's Healthcare Awareness Program (CHAP). Nationally, CHAP fits into the broader efforts related to improving access to quality care for vulnerable children.  In Michigan, CHAP works exclusively with children on Medicaid and helps them access quality health care using a more efficient system. Good health is essential for school readiness, an issue that is central to the work of the Investment Corporation.

 
MLive, KALAMAZOO – A discussion with a colleague a few years ago about how to better help kids who are below the poverty line, led Dr. Thomas Akland, a pediatrician who works for Borgess ProMed Pediatrics and Borgess Family Medicine in Plainwell, to spearhead an effort to start the Children’s Healthcare Access Program in Kalamazoo. 
 
A pilot program of CHAP, which has already taken root in Kent and Wayne counties, has started here with in-kind support from Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare Group, the dedication of space and resources by Kalamazoo Community Mental Health, and volunteer participation by many others.
 

 

GAYLORD – Families visiting the Gaylord Secretary of State office will find the wait can be pleasant and productive with the launch of the Children’s Literary Corner.
 
The newly unveiled Literary Corner is designed to be family friendly and follows the national effort to encourage and support early education.
 
“What child doesn’t love a good story?” Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “Reading helps a child explore the world and opens up new opportunities for learning. A children’s reading corner at the Gaylord Secretary of State office says a lot about the priority that the staff and community place on education and the future of their children.”
 

When work hours increased and scheduling family care for two-year-old Sophia became problematic, Kalli Fortune-Ball knew she had to find professional childcare. 

She was aware of research showing that 90 percent of a child’s brain architecture is built before age 5. Failure to develop early knowledge capabilities and social skills during this prime learning time can put children behind their peers before they even start kindergarten, creating an achievement gap that is difficult to close in later schooling.

Under a bright, blue sky a giant star stood as a symbol of Genesee County’s support for early childhood investment in Michigan.

Actually, 606 people stood for 10 minutes in the shape of a star and in doing so broke the prior world record (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) of 365 people standing in the shape of the star.

In recognition of their outstanding work, this year the Kent County Great Start Parent Coalition was named the state’s top “Fierce Heart” organization for young children by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.

On Wednesday, January 18th, Governor Snyder delivered his 2nd State of the State address.  Watch the speech, read important quotes and find out what you can do to speak on behalf of children in Michigan with the Sandbox Party. 

Funds are available for established organizations with the fiscal, administrative, and programmatic capacity to apply to become a Great Start to Quality Resource Center and lead the implementation of Great Start to Quality within a region of the state.

Dalia Smith of Saginaw remembers when her son was a baby, inconsolable and constantly crying. Like many young parents, she just didn’t know how to cope. Some days she was so overwhelmed she didn’t feel like she could get out of bed.Through family centered treatment in Saginaw County, Smith learned coping skills.

KALAMAZOO - Kalamazoo Gazette columnist Julie Mack recently published a column that included a list of ways to fix the public schools by Tim Bartik, an economist for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.