Great Start Spotlight Series

Welcome to the Great Start Spotlight series, highlighting projects and achievements of Michigan's Great Start Collaboratives and Great Start Parent Coalitions. 

Michigan's Great Start Parent Coalitions are growing fast, especially Clare-Gladwin
Creating an active Parent Coalition isn’t as easy as getting a group of parents together for coffee and doughnuts. There are 70 Parent Coalitions in the state of Michigan, each a part of the Great Start network. The members of these coalitions are representatives of their communities. They help advance local activities and lend their voice as consumers of early childhood products and programs.

Spotlight: Judge joins forces with Menominee County Great Start
For 21 years, Judge William A. Hupy has served in Menominee County courtrooms. From the bench he sees truants and delinquents, broken families and children who have lost their purpose and direction. Now Hupy hopes that the work of the collaborative will make for fewer young people in future courtrooms.

Spotlight: Ottawa Great Start nears launch of Whole Family Connection
It’s been a big job, but the members of the Ottawa County Great Start Collaborative are convinced the Whole Family Connection will be worth it. Whole Family Connection is an on-line information and referral system that will connect families and services in Ottawa County. The project, established and in place in Florida, is a web-based tool that provides a virtual one-stop shop for resources, while also providing critical data about children and services.

Spotlight: Calhoun County Great Start Parent Coalition
The Calhoun County Great Start Parent Coalition (CCGSPC) has made a concentrated effort to engage in grassroots community building to reach diverse parts of the population.Spotlight: Washtenaw County Great Start Parent Coalition
The Washtenaw County Great Start Parent Coalition found a great way to truck people into one place and give them a chance to learn about the benefits of early childhood. Trucks.
Spotlight: Cass County Great Start Collaborative

CASSOPOLIS - Cass County was the last county in Michigan to start a Great Start Collaborative. But last is turning out to be a great way to start as far as Heather Merrill, the group’s coordinator, is concerned.      


Profile: Kent County medical home program   
Dedication, collaboration and an important coincidence paved the way for Kent County to begin a “medical home” project that is fast becoming a model for other communities and the state.

Spotlight: Ingham County Great Start Collaborative
In 2008, four powerful civic entities – Capital Area United Way, Capital Region Community Foundation, the R.E. Olds Foundation and the Consumers Energy Foundation – became partners in a search for ways to make meaningful and measurable changes in the lives of local youth.

Spotlight: Wayne County Great Start Collaborative
In 2007, a group of Michigan early childhood leaders developed recommendations for a statewide “quality rating and improvement system” (QRIS) they hope will one day soon improve the delivery of child care across Michigan. The group’s recommendations haven’t yet been implemented, owing to the dismal state economy. But some communities are testing their ideas, including Wayne County, according to Toni Hartke, director of the Wayne County Great Start Collaborative. 

Spotlight: Lenawee County Great Start Parent Coalition
When Lisa Eack and Heather Perez became co- liaisons of the Lenawee County Great Start Parent Coalition in September, their first task, as they saw it, was to grow the organization. The coalition formed a couple of years ago but was slow in gathering members, so the women decided they needed something extra to draw people to meetings.

Election: Wexford-Missaukee host voter education event
Many were also shocked to learn that in Wexford-Missaukee, one in five children live in poverty and more than 65 percent of households have both parents working, which creates a huge need for quality child care.

Election: Macomb GSPC interviews 50 candidates during election season
“It can be kind of intimidating to think about talking to senators and representatives and people running for those offices,” Bates said. “You want to make sure you articulate yourself and speak with professionalism and poise. You want people to realize we are serious about early childhood.”

Election: Lapeer GSPC finds interviewing candidates isn't so tough after all
Teresa Gormley never imagined she’d be sharing information and interviewing candidates for the state Senate or House of Representatives, let alone gubernatorial candidates. But that’s just what she did this election season.

Election:  Van Buren GSC goes virtual to continue educational outreach
LAWRENCE - All aboard! That was the call issued by the Van Buren Great Start this summer as it continued its ongoing educational outreach. The group held a “virtual bus tour” for local leaders and candidates to help them understand the needs of local children 0-5 and how those needs are being addressed.

Spotlight: Gogebic-Ontonagon GSC goes the extra mile -literally - for children
Gogebic and Ontonagon counties are at the western-most point of the Upper Peninsula. More than 500 miles from Lansing, the counties are sparsely populated, economically depressed and geographically closer to the capitals of three other states. None of that, however, stops the Gogebic-Ontonagon Great Start Collaborative from working to improve coordination, delivery and access to early childhood services for families in the region.

Spotlight: Monroe County Great Start Parent Coaliton has a powerful ARMM
The acronym describes the tools of effective advocacy, and the group has been so effective at using them that it earned the Fierce Heart Award in 2009. The award is given each year by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) for outstanding advocacy on behalf of young children.

Election: Delta-Schoolcraft GSC offers polling place child care
The Delta-Schoolcraft Counties Great Start Collaborative (GSC) has come up with a unique solution to election day stress, which it will employ during Tuesday’s election – free child care at a polling place.

ElectionClinton GSC/GSPC find partnerships are key to candidate forum
ST. JOHNS – In the spirit of collaboration, finding partners to help stage a candidate forum was a priority for the members of the Clinton County Great Start Collaborative (GSC) and Great Start Parent Coalition (GSPC).

Spotlight: St. Joseph GSPC starts grandparent support group
According to the U.S. Census, 74,738 Michigan grandparents had primary responsibility for their grandchildren in 2008. Irene Gunnink of St. Joseph County is among them, and knows how hard the job is, especially without a little support.
Image removed.Spotlight: Shiawassee County Great Start

Shiawassee County’s Great Start Collaborative used creative financing to braid, blend and leverage more than $1 million to support local early childhood initiatives.



Image removed.Spotlight: Kent County Great Start

The Kent County Great Start Collaborative launched the the Children’s Healthcare Access Program (CHAP), increasing access to a Medical Home, improving Medical Home quality, providing supportive services and parent education.  



Image removed.Spotlight: Sanilac County Great Start

Sanilac County Great Start Parent Coalition (GSPC) bring children to meetings (child care services are provided) but were surprised to find the kids as enthusiastic about advocating for early childhood as their parents.




Image removed.Spotlight: Midland County Great Start

 The Midland County Great Start Collaborative made enrolling a child in preschool a lot easier by maintaining a county-wide database for preschool programs. 



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Spotlight: Mason-Lake-Ocean County Great Start

The Mason Lake Oceana Great Start Parent Coalition (GSPC) held the first candidate forum in the state in March, and a “Rock the Vote” concert in June.

Image removed.Spotlight: Jackson County Great Start
The Jackson County Great Start Collaborative partnered with Consumers Energy to fund two child care programs, a quality child care program for low-income parents and a program to provide age apporpriate books to children every month until age 5.