Great Start Communications Bulletin (10.3.2016)


Training Opportunity! Facilitating Systemic Action Learning
The problems facing communities today are complex and ever changing. Addressing these problems requires communities to shift the way work typically gets done. Communities who are making transformative change are successfully embedding ongoing processes and structures that focus on learning through doing, adapting and improving, in real time – known as Action Learning.

This November, Collaborative and Coalition staff have a wonderful opportunity to attend a one-day training focused on facilitating action learning with GSCs and GSPCs. This training builds from the ABLe Change Framework Training many have attended, however attending ABLe Change training is not a prerequisite.

By attending this training, attendees will learn:

  • Why an Action Learning Approach is needed when aiming to tackle significant social issues (such as Michigan’s four early childhood outcomes)
  • How to apply an Action Learning approach in your collaborative/coalition meetings to promote:
    • Effective problem-solving
    • Action by all members, not just staff
    • Learning
    • Real-time adaptation

The ABLe Change Action Learning process was created by Drs. Pennie Foster-Fishman and Erin Watson of Michigan State University. ABLe Change Action Learning is an ongoing, problem-solving cycle through which people work together to:

  • Define and understand what is causing the problems they see and experience
  • Design innovative strategies to address those problems
  • Take action to effectively implement strategies they designed, and then
  • Learn about whether those actions made a difference in solving the problem.

There are two location options for this one-day training. November 17 will be held in Owosso (Shaiwassee County) and November 18 will be held in Traverse City at one of the Collaborative’s 5toONE locations! The training will begin with registration at 8 a.m. and run from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. We welcome and encourage each GSC/GSPC to bring up to three participants. Please register by November 4 by clicking here.

2016 Great Start Data Set is now available!
The annual Great Start data set, compiled by the Michigan League for Public Policy, in partnership with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, and funded by the Office of Great Start, is complete and now available on the new GSN Site!

As in years past, we are offering a webinar to help increase your understanding and use of the data in your local early childhood system efforts. The live webinar, featuring Alicia Guevara-Warren from the Michigan League for Public Policy, will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, October 12 and will be recorded and posted on Great Start Network. Please click here to register.

New Great Start Network site Launches!!
We are excited to announce that the new Great Start Network site is complete and ready for you to use! Much of the new site should look familiar – the individual GSC/GSPC sites, contact lists, the Peer to Peer Discussion Boards etc. We hope that you find that the calendar and documents are now easier to navigate and access, and we have added a page dedicated to the orientation of new Great Start staff. As a reminder, the link to the new site is: and please remember that your year-end reporting will be completed in the “old” GSN site – see below for that link and information about the year-end reporting.

Strengthening Families Assessment Introduction Webinar – October 27
We are very excited to see that 24 GSPC’s will be conducting the Strengthening Families Assessment during FY17! We invite those of you who are participating to join the Strengthening Families Assessment facilitation team for a webinar that will provide:

  • An overview of what to expect and plan for in the coming year;
  • Support in the steps that will need to be taken to introduce this process to your GSPC;
  • A preview of what the SF assessment looks like!

We strongly encourage all Parent Liaisons and GSC Directors/ Coordinators who are conducting the assessment this year to participate in this webinar as a team.

Great Start Orientation – October 25
The first Great Start Orientation for FY17 will be held on October 25 in Lansing from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The agenda includes an overview of the Great Start Initiative, Early Childhood System Building, Purpose of Collaboratives and Coalitions, review of Key Documents, Clarify Roles, and how to access tools and technical assistance. We encourage you to attend as a team if at all possible (Director and Parent Liaison). To participate, please register here.

If you have any questions about orientation or need support as you begin your new role, please contact the TA Helpline at We look forward to seeing you there!


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, which you access at: If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!


September 29: State and Federal Source FY16 FER will be live in MEGS+; Federal Source amounts must match what will be reported in CMS. The FY16 Federal source budget amendments must be at a status of “Grant Funds Available” before CMS FER is initiated.

September 30: Federal Source GSCs must draw down funds for all receipts in hand.

October 15: TANF-MOE report is due.

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+.


Kent County’s Parent-Led Strategy – Diaper Drive
In 2009, Kent County GSC and GSPC identified a very basic need of parents/children in their community – diapers. After identifying this health and safety issue, their members responded by creating a diaper drive. The diaper drive was expected to last only one year, but it was so successful in meeting the needs and bringing service providers together, it has continued and grown annually. Kent County’s diaper drive is a great example of identifying a basic need and the GSC/GSPC being the conduit for bringing families and providers together to take action on a common goal. For more information on their diaper drive, click here.

Traverse Bay 5toONE Model Webinar – Rescheduled
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the webinar featuring the Traverse Bay 5toONE Model, originally planned for September 28, has been rescheduled. It will now be held on November 2 from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. If you registered for it previously, you must re-register for the new date and time (see link below). The 5toONE model is the Traverse Bay Area’s locally driven approach for addressing persistent challenges facing young children birth to 5 by creating a sustainable 5-county system of resources that both provides support and inspiration to all families and addresses the acute needs of families most in need of help.

5toONE addresses the 5 early childhood system components, builds the 5 strengths identified in the Strengthening Families Framework in all families, and supports the four Office of Great Start outcomes. There are 3 project goals: 1) Reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect; 2) increase families’ access to quality childcare; and 3) Improve children’s kindergarten readiness. Join this webinar and learn how, by using a design thinking process and extensive parent/family input, Traverse Bay is developing 5toONE neighborhood centers partnering with community entities across their five-county region.


New Child Care Regulations Mark Administration’s Next Early Care and Learning Milestone
In the second big release of final early childhood regulations in less than a month, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has posted its final rule for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Federal child care regulations were last updated 18 years ago, and research since then on the impact of child care on children’s earliest development informed the development of this latest rule. The rule implements the many changes included in the 2014 bipartisan CCDBG reauthorization, including enhancing health and safety through more robust standards for CCDBG providers; mandatory criminal background checks; more funding to improve child care quality, including the first statutory set-aside to improve infant-toddler care; and annual inspections of CCDBG programs. The regulations strengthen and amplify the law in four areas:

  • protecting health and safety of children in care;
  • helping parents make informed consumer choices and obtain information on child development;
  • supporting equal access to stable, high-quality care; and
  • enhancing the quality of child care and the workforce.

The ACF website provides a myriad of materials to help understand this important, but voluminous regulatory document, including a fact sheet, FAQ’s, and webinars on the final rule, as well as tribal changes.

The child care rule comes on the heels of the updated Head Start Program Performance Standards announced on September 1, both many years in the making. Together they modernize the guidelines and requirements for the two most important federal early care and learning programs and are the culmination of a long line of Obama Administration efforts to support the field in upgrading quality and expanding services through increased funding.


Engaging Parents, Developing Leaders: A Self-Assessment
Have you used a lens of racial equity and inclusion in your family engagement and parent participation approaches? Do you know where your implementation strategies fall along identified key areas of family partnerships?

Find out more about the newly-published self-assessment and planning tool for nonprofits and schools, “Engaging Parents, Developing Leaders”, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in August, 2016. Shelly Waters Boots, co-author, will offer insights into the development of the tool and ways to use it to assess and improve current practice in a webinar on Thursday, October 13 from 3-4 p.m.

PAM Conference Registration Open
PAM (Parenting Awareness Month) Conferences bring together professionals and volunteers who work with parents and families – across the lifespan. Participants will gain relevant information on issues facing today’s parents and families, and practical strength-based, evidence-based parenting education and resources. The keynote for this year’s conferences is our very own Maureen Hollocker from Charlevoix-Emmet GSC!

Go to the PAM website to find out information about the conferences happening on October 13 in Marquette and November 18 in East Lansing.


New Report: The First 1,000 Days: Nourishing America’s Future
The problem of poor nutrition is pervasive throughout the U.S. Too many American women and young children suffer from high rates of obesity, food insecurity, unhealthy diets, and low rates of breastfeeding. In order to illuminate the challenge of malnutrition in the United States and galvanize a movement to ensure that every child has a healthy start to life, 1,000 Days – with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation – launched a first-of-its-kind report on the nutritional health of America’s mothers, babies and toddlers.

The First 1,000 Days: Nourishing America’s Future, a new report from 1,000 Days, examines the nutritional health of America’s mothers, infants and toddlers and highlights a set of “wins” to ensure that every child in the U.S. can have a healthy first 1,000 days.


Healthy from the Start Webinar: Connecting Michigan Child Care Providers with Nutrition and Wellness Programs
The Association for Child Development and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting a webinar on October 12 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to discuss evidence-based strategies that improve child nutrition and physical activity with child care providers. The webinar will also describe nutrition and wellness programs for child care settings; and support child care providers with resources and technical assistance. Please share this flyer with interested parties in your community.


Michigan Makes Strides in Early Education
Michigan made big strides this year towards the goal of increasing access to high quality early learning and development programs. This year’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant related achievements include:

  • Improving availability of early childhood data,
  • Exceeding participation goals for professional development opportunities for early childhood educators,
  • Expanding professional development opportunities for early childhood educators, and
  • Increasing provider participation in Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s quality rating and improvement system for early childhood programs.

…and that is just the short list! See the full list of Midyear 2016 Highlights achieved by the Michigan Department of Education and its Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant project partners.

The US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have also released the Year 2015 Progress Update and Year 2015 Annual Progress Reports for all RTT-ELC states, including Michigan’s 2015 (Year 2) Annual Progress Report. For more information about Michigan’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant and how Michigan is using it to improve access to high quality early education, visit the grant website.