Great Start Communications Bulletin (11.14.2016)


Strengthening Families Two-Day Training – Registration is Closing
We are excited to announce that as part of the Training and Technical Assistance offerings for Fiscal Year 2017, we will be offering the two day Strengthening Families training to all Parent Liaisons who will be conducting the Strengthening Families Assessment in FY18 and any new GSC Directors or Parent Liaisons who may not have had this training in the past. This training will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about the Strengthening Families Framework and each Protective Factor in detail, and will focus on concrete ways to embed the framework into the work of the Parent Coalition and Collaborative.

This training will take place on November 29 and 30 in Shepherd, MI from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration will be closing on November 18, so please register today if you would like to participate. If you have any questions, please contact the TA Helpline!

Great Start Orientation
The second in person Orientation session for FY17 will be held on Wednesday, January 4, in Lansing at the Early Childhood Investment Corporation. Registration is only open until December 16 and you don’t want to miss this training opportunity! Networking and sign in will begin at 8:30 a.m., the training will start promptly at 9 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided.

Great Start Orientation sessions are available for new Collaborative Directors and Parent Liaisons, and offer a comprehensive overview of the Great Start Initiative, system building, the purpose of the Great Start Collaboratives and Coalitions, an introduction to important documents and requirements, key roles, objectives and partnerships, resources available through training and technical assistance, and time to interact with other Great Start staff and Consultants and meet Rachel Mellema from the Office of Great Start. 100% of past participants say they would recommend this training to others and that they were glad that they attended as a team. Whether you have been in your role for one day or one year or more, you are welcome to take advantage of this learning opportunity.

Webinar Recordings
On November 2nd, a team from the Traverse Bay Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalition held a webinar to share their innovative 5toONE model. We highly encourage GSC/GSPC staff to watch the recording to learn about their effort. You can access the recording here.


FY16 Year-End Reporting
Fiscal year 2016 has come to an end, which means that it is time to complete the year-end report, which is due in MEGS+ on November 30, 2016. To assist you in completing the report, Rachel Mellema from the Office of Great Start and Holly Wingard from ECIC recorded a brief webinar that walks you through the process of creating and completing the report and gives information about the content that the Office of Great Start would like to see in the reporting. Please note: the year-end report needs to be completed in the “old” GSN site, which is where the FY16 application exists. You can access the “old” site at: If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!


November 15: Federal Source FY16 FER is due in MEGS+ and all remaining funds must be drawn down via CMS.

November 29: CMS FER for FY16 Federal Source fund. If CMS FER is not “Certified” by end of day on 11/29, CMS will file automatic $0 FER. This is an automated process and 32p staff are not able to override CMS.

November 30: State Aid FY16 FER and Year-End Report due in MEGS+.


Reaching and Engaging with Hispanic Communities
By 2050, Hispanic children living in the United States will make up one third of the population, yet they face a number of challenges on their road to adulthood. Child Trends held a webinar on How to Reach and Engage with Hispanic Communities, a research-informed communications guide released by the Child Trends Hispanic Institute in collaboration with the Crimsonbridge Foundation. The guide is designed to help service providers and educators build communication strategies to better serve Latino children and their families. It explains how to maximize your funders’ contributions, access multiple communication channels, and many other essential strategies. The guide is also intended for funders and policymakers whose work impacts the Hispanic community.

You can watch the webinar at your convenience, in a recorded version which is based on this new guide book.

Training: Creating a Collaborative Culture
Are you ready to grow a collaborative culture? The Institute for Excellence in Education is sponsoring a one-day training on November 29th. Participants will unearth the beliefs and values required to sow these seeds. Emphasis will be placed on providing a safe environment where staff members feel secure and will therefore engage in productive dialogue. For more information, click here.


FEEDBACK FORUMS: Michigan’s Move to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
In November and December, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) will partner with intermediate school districts across Michigan to gather input from educators, advocates, parents, students, and the public regarding specific proposed components of the nation’s new federal education law: the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The feedback gathered at these forums and through online surveys will inform Michigan’s final ESSA plan, which will guide how Michigan leverages federal funding to make Michigan a Top 10 education state in the next 10 years. The final ESSA plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in early March 2017.  If you would like to register for one of the following feedback forums, click here, or visit the ESSA webpage for more information.

  • Wayne, Nov. 29, 9 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • Saginaw, Dec. 1, 9 a.m. – 12 noon
  • Sault Ste. Marie, December 1, 6-9 p.m.
  • Clare, December 2, 1-3 p.m.
  • Mason, December 15, 9 a.m. – 12 noon
  • Grand Rapids, December 16, 9-11 a.m.
  • Jackson, December 19, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Free Recorded Webinars from the Early Head Start National Resource Center
Looking for great free instructional resources? Check out this collection of archived webinars. You’ll find recordings on topics such as 1) Building a Dynamic Brain: The Influences of Music, Movement, and Nutrition, 2)Reflective Curriculum Planning for Infants and Toddlers, 3) The Impact of Trauma and Toxic Stress on Infant and Toddler Development,or 4)Supporting Babies with Disabilities. Go to the website to find a recorded sequence of professional development on these and other topics.

Early Childhood Education
The U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance on how districts can use federal funds in the Every Student Succeeds Act to support early learning. Education Week offers an overview of the guidance, which includes recommendations such as using funds for training early childhood teachers on how to support English Language Learners, updating and aligning teacher certification and training in the early grades and using funds to train teachers in the use of technology in classrooms. Read more from First Five Years Fund and  New America.

Child Trends: Multiple Routes to Supporting Young Children
For a variety of research-based options for improving outcomes for young children, take a look at some of the recent work from Child Trends. Quality early care and education depends in part on a skilled workforce: see their Child Trends 5 for a profile of that workforce. One way to support expectant parents and their young children, once born, is through early childhood home visiting. There are also opportunities to support young children’s mental wellness.


A new poll from Sesame Workshop reveals that parents put greater emphasis on teaching children politeness whereas teachers prioritize teaching empathy. Sesame Workshop encourages parents to place more emphasis on teaching empathy as well. Read more from The Washington Post.

Technology use in Early Learning Environments
The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released a joint policy brief providing promising practices on the appropriate use of technology in early learning environments. The purpose of this brief was to:

  • Provide guiding principles for early educators (including those in home settings), early learn­ing programs, schools, and families on the use of technology by young children to support them in making informed choices for all children.
  • Inform the public, families, and early educators on the evidence base used to support these guiding principles.
  • Issue a call to action to researchers, technology developers, and state and local leaders to ensure technology is advanced in ways that promote young children’s healthy development and learning.

It is their hope that the information presented in this brief for using technology with young chil­dren can help families make informed decisions about their child’s interaction with technology, including watching television, playing digital games, using video chats or apps to communicate, or using digital tools to create content.


Webinar: MiABLE Program
The Michigan Family to Family Health Information Center is sponsoring a free webinar on the MiABLE Program on November 17th from 9:30 – 10:30 am. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) program was created to encourage and assist individuals and families in saving funds for the purposes of supporting individuals with disabilities to maintain health, independence and quality of life. Representatives from the Michigan Department of Treasury will share information about MiABLE, including who is eligible, what expenses the fund can cover, how it works with SSI and Medicaid, and other information specific to Michigan. Register for the webinar through this link. Registration is limited to the first 100 people.

What is Happening to Fine Motor Development?
In recent years a growing number of children are “arriving at school lacking in basic fine motor skills.” This is a huge problem because if the young student does not have the finger strength and coordination to hold a pencil, for example, they will struggle to master current kindergarten requirements. Like large motor development, fine motor skills develop progressively, beginning in the earliest years of childhood. Young children who spend too much time “swiping and tapping” electronic devices, instead of playing with manipulative toys or coloring with crayons, struggle with poor hand control and weak pencil grip in school. This article will help educators and family members to consider a return to the time-tested play materials of childhood-blocks, play dough, beads, and crayons-to best prepare children for school.