Great Start Communications Bulletin (1.3.2017)


Training and TA Offerings in 2017
Happy New Year!  We hope that you all had a wonderful break and are feeling refreshed.  We wanted to remind you of the upcoming Training and TA offerings that will be taking place between now and the end of FY17:

Offering Date Location
New Staff Orientation January 12, 2017 ECIC – Lansing
ABLe Change Training (for GSC’s participating in Strategic Planning) February 8-9, 2017 Harrison
New Staff Orientation April 12, 2017 ECIC – Lansing
Strengthening Families/Parent Café training (for PLs) April 25, 2017 Shepherd
ABLe Change Training May 10-11, 2017 Shephard
Adaptive Schools May 24-24, 2017 TBD
Parents Partnering for Change (for new PLs) June 27-28, 2017 Shepherd
New Staff Orientation July 12, 2017 ECIC – Lansing
Statewide Convening August 8, 2017 Mt. Pleasant
Adaptive Schools
(days 3-4)
August 22-23, 2017 TBD

Revised Great Start Data Forms!
There are a couple of revisions to the 2016 Data Forms that we just received from the Michigan League for Public Policy. The revised data include:

  • Updated 2015 lead testing data.
  • Revised data regarding mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

Beginning in 2011, the smoking during pregnancy data was not limited to only smoking during pregnancy. It also included a number of women who smoked three months prior to pregnancy. The revised data for 2011-2014 now only includes women who smoked during pregnancy–it excludes those who smoked prior to pregnancy.

Please be sure to check out the revised forms for your county(ies) data. The updated form can be found on the Great Start Network site under “Documents/Great Start Data Set Materials 2016”.


Trusted Advisors Webinar – January 10
The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant included funding to design and implement outreach and support for families in local communities who have children birth to age 5, with the greatest need. These “Trusted Advisors” grants are intended to improve local connections with families in order to engage them in early learning and development opportunities and related community supports which may include distributing culturally and linguistically appropriate materials and information about the importance of early childhood learning and development.

There are many service providers, organizations, or other entities that serve as “trusted advisors” for families in local communities. Trusted advisors can share information about the importance of early childhood learning and development, about services available to support families with young children, and where families can find high-quality childcare or preschool. That is why the Office of Great Start has selected the Great Start Parent Coalitions as core to identifying the subsets of parents in communities who need extra support, as well as the community entities who may already be working with these parents and are trusted by them, but may need extra support to carry forward the messages that will lead to children’s optimal development.

OGS is working in partnership with ECIC, and together are excited to announce that the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has State Board of Education approval for these Great Start Parent Coalition Trusted Advisor Grants, which will be awarded to intermediate school districts to provide this outreach and support for families and their children. The awards will range from $5,000 to $60,000, dependent on the needs and design proposed.

An application process is close to completion, with a target to have instructions and information disseminated in late January. The process will include using the Hexagon Tool and the data that you have received from the Michigan League for Public Policy, along with any other data that you have about areas within your communities or subsets of families who have been hard to reach, and comparing that to any gaps you have in outreach, and an exploration of who/what organizations are helping parents of young children of that community get connected and gain understanding of early learning and development.

To support you in preparing to apply for this great opportunity, a webinar led by Desiree Hughes, Rachel Mellema and Holly Wingard  will be held on January 10 at 2 p.m. and will provide an overview of the purpose of the Trusted Advisors grant, a preview of the application, and an opportunity to ask questions.  This webinar will be recorded and will be posted on the Great Start Network site for those who are not able to participate live.  We welcome you to submit specific questions that you might have about this grant opportunity in advance of the webinar to ensure that all questions are addressed, directed to Desiree Hughes by email at or phone 517-373-9169.


WEBINAR: How Can We Engage Families for System Change in Early Childhood?
Join the Center for the Study of Social Policy and First 5 Alameda County, along with early childhood leaders from  Florida,  Massachusetts and California, to learn about insights and strategies from the new toolkit, Ripples of Transformation: Families Leading Change in Early Childhood Systems.

The  webinar, to be held on January 11th from 1:30-2:30 pm Eastern time, will summarize a fresh approach to family engagement along a continuum, from First Teacher to Policy Advocate, highlighting cutting-edge strategies for early childhood agency and program leaders to promote equity-driven, family-led systems change. Finally, the panel will explore policy and practice implications and take questions from participants. Register here!

Text Messages to Help Parents Prepare Their Children for Kindergarten
In the last bulletin, we shared general information about READY4K, a text messaging program for parents of young children designed to help them prepare their children for kindergarten. Many of you were interested in learning how parents could sign up for the messages. THANK YOU to Chris Tappan from the COOR-Iosco Great Start Collaborative who passed along the website. Check it out to see if it is something you may want to pass along to parents in your community!

Tuning In: Parents of Young Children Tell Us What They Think, Know and Need
ZERO TO THREE, in partnership with the Bezos Family Foundation, released the results of a survey, drawn from a nationally-representative sample of 2,200 parents of children birth to 5 years, this year. The results include findings on issues such as parenting challenges, the dilemma of how to discipline young children, and what parents understand about early development. Here are a few of the interesting findings:

  • Almost all parents feel judged all the time
  • Parents overall consistently underestimate just how early children can be affected by some critical experiences (e.g., nearly half of parents think that reading to children starts to benefit long-term language development about a year and a half later than it actually does); and
  • About half of parents believe that children are capable of self-control and other developmental milestones much earlier than they actually are.

An overview/key insights document is available, in addition to the full report, at this website.


Save the Date: 5th Annual Mchigan Home Visiting Conference
The 5th Annual Michigan Home Visiting Conference will be held onAugust 2-3, 2017 at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids. For more information visit here.


Learning from Resident Engagement Work
A new report from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Fostering Resident Voice and Influence: The Making Connections Experience with Resident Engagement and Leadership, describes lessons learned through the decade-long Making Connections project. Much of the wisdom gleaned from that project, with its focus on engaging residents to improve their communities, can be applied to efforts to engage parents in the programs that serve their young children and in community-level work to build early childhood systems and improve conditions and outcomes for young children and their families.

8 Things to Remember about Child Development
In this important list, the Center on the Developing Child sets the record straight about some key aspects of early child development. Drawn from our groundbreaking report published earlier this year, From Best Practices to Breakthrough Impacts, this list is broken down into eight easily shareable points with accompanying graphics. Read the “8 Things” brief.

What is the JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress?
The JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress, a project of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, is committed to reducing the prevalence of lifelong impairments in physical and mental health caused by significant adversity early in life. Its work addresses the need to develop rigorous, versatile methods for identifying young children and adults who experience toxic stress. Learn more about the network.

Helping the Helpers: Tennessee’s 2gen Experience with Comprehensive Workforce Development and Pilot Site Implementation
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) are proud to bring you a free webinar series to promote two-generation approaches that meets the needs of children and parents together. We are also pleased to work closely with other national organizations supporting two-generation efforts to develop this series.

Webinar 3 will highlight Tennessee’s 2Gen journey, including the Families First Program, a workforce development program, 2Gen pilot sites, and partnerships with a model developer, Nurse-Family Partnership. This webinar will also examine practical examples of how a state can embed two-generation approaches and culture change into their professional development systems.

Event: Helping the Helpers: Tennessee’s 2gen Experience with Comprehensive Workforce Development and Pilot Site Implementation
When: Thursday, January 12, 2017, 2 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Time Zone: (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Audio Conference Details: Conference Number(s): 888 390-1249
To register now, please visit here.

The archive of Webinar 2: Building Blocks for Early Childhood: Integrating 2Gen Through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and Early Care and Education held on December 8th is now available here.

Information about other webinars in this series is available here.


Launch of the new Great Start to Quality Website
We are excited to announce that the new Great Start to Quality website will be launched on Monday, December 12th! The new website – includes :

  • A new Document Library that is easily searchable,
  • Resource Center pages to which families and providers can easily navigate,
  • Opportunities for direct communication from families and providers to Resource Centers,
  • FAQs that will be updated to answer relevant questions from providers and families,
  • More effective search feature,
  • And much more!

Mandated Reporter Guide
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) recently shared a Mandated Reporter guide to help childcare providers better understand their roles as a Mandated Reporter and supports available to them.  This guide will be a wonderful resource to share with all providers in your region and to become acclimated with its content as well as help with support.  To view this important resource, click here.

New Reports Released Regarding Early Learning

  • A new report from the Education Commission of the States summarizes recommendations from some of the top education experts in the U.S. on what to prioritize for a high-quality K-3 system.
  • The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation released a brief on the use of social science research in early education to improve the child welfare system. It specifically points to the potential of early care and education for young children in the child welfare system.
  • A new paper out from Nobel Laureate James Heckman of The Heckman Equation examines the many ways in which these high-quality programs helped participants thrive throughout life. The study estimates the long-term benefits of the Abecedarian program through age 35 and finds substantial beneficial impacts on (a) health and the quality of life, (b) the labor incomes of participants, (c) crime, (d) education and (e) the labor income of the mothers of the participants through subsidizing their childcare. Read more from the Washington Post.
  • A new report released as part of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s study on Georgia’s Pre-K Programshows that the program continues to exhibit positive outcomes through the end of kindergarten. This is the first report released as part of a multi-year evaluation.


Infants and Toddlers: A Video Collection
Featuring a collection of 200 short video clips, this site will provide users with a perfect window into the world of infants and toddlers and their daily experiences in child care. As well, users will see the wide range of tasks and roles that early childhood professionals take on each day. Finally, many of the clips highlight the importance of the partnerships that form between parents and the educators who care for their young children. Clips may be searched by criteria (e.g., develop-mental domain, activity language development, or educator strategies, like following the child’s lead), age of the children, or setting. It is also possible to find videos by doing a key word search. See for yourself here.

Infant and Toddler Mental Health
President Obama signed the recently passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes provisions to support mental health promotion, intervention, and treatment programs aimed at the United States’ youngest children. Read ZERO TO THREE’s coverage of these mental health provisions.

Baby FaceTime: Can Toddlers Learn From Online Video Chat?
This recent study highlights that there is a great difference between putting a baby in front of a television and having an interactive exchange via video chat. In a recent study, researchers found that children paid attention and responded to their on-screen partners, but only children who experienced interactive video chat responded in sync with the partner, such as clapping to imitate after the partner had clapped. Read more here.

Michigan’s Baby Court Program
A blog piece from The New York Times looks at Michigan’s Baby Court program, which provides mental health therapy and wraparound services to infants.


2017 National Birth Defects Prevention Month Packet
The Michigan Birth Defects Education and Outreach Program is excited to share the 2017 National Birth Defects Prevention Month packet. This packet was developed in collaboration with many partners, including The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) Education and Outreach, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Teratology Society (TS).

The theme for 2017 is “Prevent to Protect: Prevent infections for baby’s protection.” We know that not all birth defects can be prevented. But, we also know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by reducing their risk of getting an infection during pregnancy. The goal for 2017 is to continue the momentum from previous years, increasing awareness that birth defects are “Common, Costly, and Critical” and offering actionable steps that professionals, community groups, and the public can take to prevent birth defects. Specially-designed materials to help you spread the word and engage your communities are available on the  Michigan Genetics Resource Center website and can be tailored to your specific agency’s mission, needs, and capacity. I have also attached the toolkit and infographic. We hope you find these materials useful as you work to increase awareness of birth defects and highlight prevention activities during January and throughout the year.

If you should have questions about National Birth Defects Prevention Month, please contact Courtney Miller at

American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Safe Sleep Recommendations
Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related infant deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics is designed to help reduce those numbers. They recommend supine positioning, the use of a firm sleep surface, room-sharing without bed-sharing, and the avoidance of soft bedding and overheating. Additional recommendations for SIDS reduction include breastfeeding, avoidance of exposure to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs, routine immunization, and the use of a pacifier. The recommendations and strength of evidence for each recommendation are included in this policy statement. Read more here