Great Start Communications Bulletin (12.12.2016)


The Early Childhood Investment Corporation offices will be closed from December 24 through January 3 in observation of the holidays (this includes the Great Start Helpline).

The next Great Start Communications Bulletin will be distributed on January 3, 2017.

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and want to thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of the children in Michigan. We look forward to a new year of possibilities with you!


Great Start Orientation
Due to some ISD closures for the holidays, the second in person Orientation session for FY17 will be held on Thursday, January 12, 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.

Great Start Data Set and Technical Assistance Available
As a reminder, the annual Great Start Data set is available on the Great Start Network site as is the recording from the webinar held on October 12th.  Alicia Guevara Warren from the Michigan League for Public Policy is also available as an ongoing resource to individual GSC/GSPC for questions about the quantitative data. Her email is

During the webinar, Alicia also highlighted the Kids Count Data Center website, which is a fantastic resource that all Collaboratives and Coalitions can utilize to find and compare local, state and national data and create graphics that illustrate trends and other data points that you may be interested in investigating.


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 inlate 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.


Family Engagement
A new study from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation looks at the social networks of low-income fathers. This research is part of the Parents and Children Together (PACT) study. The fathers in the study typically had small or no supportive family or friends.

Text Messages to Help Parents Prepare Their Children for Kindergarten
READY4K! is a text messaging program for parents of preschoolers designed to help them prepare their children for kindergarten. Each week during the school year, parents receive three text messages about important kindergarten readiness skills. For example:

FACT: Kids need to know that letters make up words. Research shows that kids with good letter knowledge become strong readers.

TIP: Point out the first letter in your child’s name in magazines, on signs & at the store. Have your child try. Make it a game. Who can find the most?

GROWTH: Keep pointing out letters. You’re preparing your child 4K! Now when you point out a letter ask: What sound does it make?

READY4K! text messages, which were developed at Stanford University, are based on child development research and linked to state educational standards.  In a randomized controlled trial study, parents who received READY4K! text messages engaged more frequently in learning activities at home with their children than parents who did not receive the texts.  READY4K! parents were also more involved at school according to teachers.  Ultimately, children of parents who received READY4K! text messages gained two to three additional months of learning in important areas of literacy (York & Loeb, 2014). Check it out here and also here.


Home Visiting Evaluations
The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation released an overview of grantee-led evaluations on The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. This offers important information on implementation of home visiting in diverse settings.

Call for Presentations – 2017 Michigan Home Visiting Conference
The Michigan Home Visiting Conference Planning Committee is currently accepting proposals for concurrent sessions to be delivered at the 5th Annual Michigan Home Visiting Conference on August 2-3, 2017, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 2017 Michigan Home Visiting Conference is a conference for home visitors, administrators, supervisors, and parents in Michigan’s Home Visiting programs.The following areas are a priority for this year’s conference:

  • Continuous quality improvement
  • Supervision
  • Trauma (toxic stress, secondary)
  • Challenging issues (domestic violence, substance abuse and alcohol abuse, maternal depression)
  • Self-Care
  • Working alongside parents
  • Health and Infant Care (breastfeeding, nutrition, immunization)
  • Outreach and enrollment
  • Child development/screening and school readiness
  • Community referral and coordination

Submissions are due by close of business on Friday, January 13, 2017Incomplete submissions will not be accepted. The conference planning committee will review all submissions and presenters will be notified regarding the status of their submission by February 3, 2017. If you have trouble with this form, please contact Heather Woods at, or at 517-324-6091. To read more about how to submit or to access the on-line form, please click here to access the Call for Presentation directly.


The “It Matters” series highlights information from the Child Trends DataBank, a source for the most up-to-date research on more than 125 indicators of child well-being. Look for many more infographics over the coming months. They are encouraging communities to share these graphics as widely as possible on social media using the hashtag #ItMatters4Kids.

Early Childhood Data
The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education released “The Integration of Early Childhood Data,” a new report with state profiles that helps states better utilize early childhood data to improve the services offered to children and families.

Webinar: “Building Leadership for Supportive Communities”
Date & Time: Thursday, December 15, 2016, 3:00 pm ET
Early childhood systems include high-quality early childhood programs and services that are critical to the healthy development of young children. Broad leadership for healthy child development and learning can be built from within community institutions, such as libraries and museums and child- and family-serving programs and services. In this webinar, the BUILD Initiative will share about the joint effort to strengthen collaboration among leaders in museums, libraries, and early childhood systems to increase opportunities for young children and families often identified as high need, particularly those without access to museums and libraries and lacking sufficient early learning and development opportunities. They will also share the toolkit: Building Supportive Communities with Libraries, Museums, and Early Childhood Systems: A Toolkit for Collaborative Efforts to Improve Outcomes for Young Children and Their Families. Register here.

Integrating data is worth the work
Integrated data systems enable early childhood programs, such as Head Start and health care exchanges, to share and use information to improve program coordination and quality. A new report shows that the challenging work to build these systems is worth the effort, and gives extensive guidance for states. Carlise King, executive director of the Early Childhood Data Collaborative at Child Trends, provided input for this joint report from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education. To learn more about early childhood integrated data systems, go to

ZERO TO THREE Announces new Think Babies Campaign
ZERO TO THREE is proud to announce a new campaign entitled Think Babies. The campaign, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to make the potential of every baby a national priority. We need to give parents the time to bond with their babies in the earliest months when so much of their development is at stake. We need to make sure parents have the information they want and need to best nurture and nourish their babies. And we need to make sure every family has access to quality, affordable child care where babies are truly cared for. These are the ingredients to give babies enriching early experiences, promote good mental health from the start, and create a better future for our nation. Think Babies will bring national attention to what babies and families need to thrive–and the implications for the country. Go to to learn more.


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

  • 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!

Let’s Learn Together Outside: Nature-Based Play for Families Grant
NCFL and Urban Libraries Council (ULC) are accepting proposals from libraries interested in offering nature-based programming for families with children in preschool. Three selected sites will receive a $3,000 stipend to cover programmatic costs and both onsite and virtual support, including professional development and hands-on training for implementing a series of workshops for parents and children, including Parent Time, Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time® and engaging families with the great outdoors. Deadline to submit a proposal is December 21, 2016.

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 remaining feedback forums, click here, or visit the ESSA webpage for more information.

  • 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.

Researchers at the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy published the results of a new study that show children who were enrolled in North Carolina’s early childhood programs “performed better throughout elementary school, with gains lasting through 5th grade,” according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

New America provides lessons on how to improve prekindergarten programs by looking to the experience of Tennessee.


Policy Statement on Media and Young Minds from Natural Resources
A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), addresses the influence of media on the health and development of children from 0 to 5 years of age, a time of critical brain development, building secure relationships, and establishing healthy behaviors. It reviews the existing literature on a variety of traditional and new technologies, their potential for educational benefit, and related health concerns for young children aged 0 to 5 years. The statement also highlights areas in which pediatric providers can offer guidance to families in managing the content and time limits of their children’s media use. It emphasizes the importance of parents interacting with their children during media use and the importance of not displacing other developmentally healthy activities — sleep, exercise, play, reading aloud, and social interaction.


Obesity Prevention
The Trust For America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released a new data visualization showing how state-by-state obesity rates have changed among 2- to 4-year-old WIC participants since 2000 and a series of maps highlighting states’ efforts to help promote nutrition and physical activity in early child care settings.

Project Launch
The Project Launch Resource Team published “Implementation of Young Child Wellness Strategies in a Unique Cohort of Local Communities” that highlights the innovative strategies six Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) grantees used to improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.