April 2020

20200311 130117

Great Start Collaborative Updates

Welcome Ashley Drenth

On March 9th, we welcomed our new Parent Liaison, Ashley Drenth. Ashley is a mom of two. She has a son who is 4 years old and a daughter who is almost 2. She has 9 years of experience in education as an elementary and adult education teacher. Her interests include spending time outside, reading, traveling, and yoga. She is excited to meet you!

GSC Team Updates

Like most of you, we are working from home and doing our best to navigate this new way of life. Deirdre and I were so excited to have Ashley start as our Parent Liaison. Unfortunately, we only had a few days together as a team in the office before Governor Whitmer asked us to stay home. We are learning a lot about using online tools and doing our best to connect and share resources with all of you. Hopefully, we will host a few virtual touch points in the coming weeks. We are all checking our emails daily and posting on social media. Please reach out if you have an idea to share with families or any questions for us.


Let's Get to Work

Protective Factors


Parental Resilience-- You have faced a lot and you are strong!

These are trying and unprecedented times, as parents and community members. We believe in you. You are capable.

Questions to Ponder...
* Where do you draw your strength? How does this help you in parenting?
* How does your spouse, partner, or closest friend support you?
* When you are under stress, what is most helpful? What do you do to take care of yourself?

Try this...
* Make a plan for self-care.
* Write down your self-care strategies.
* Think about how they may need to be adapted to reflect social distancing.
If you normally go to the gym, are there free online workout classes you can find? If you normally meet up with friends, can you set up a time to chat virtually?

Actually write out a plan for when you will take time for self-care each day.

When we take care of ourselves, we can take care of those who need us.


Talking is Teaching


Family Staycation Resources

These resources provide you with ways you can talk, read, sing, and play your way through the day—just with things you might already have indoors.

Pick and choose the ideas that work best for your child’s age and interests. And follow your child’s lead on other ways they want to play!


Community Resources

Emergency Childcare Locations in Kalamazoo County

We understand that this is a very difficult time for families. We want you to do whatever it takes to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Keep washing those hands and also click here to find the most updated list for Emergency Childcare for essential workers.


Great Start Collaborative Vision

A Great Start for every child in Kalamazoo County: safe, healthy and successful in school and life.

Great Start Collaborative Mission

The purpose of the Great Start Collaborative is to ensure a coordinated system of community resources and family supports in Kalamazoo County.


Sarah Drumm, Program Coordinator, 269-250-9635

Deirdre Bartells, Program Assistant, 269-250-9664

Ashley Drenth, Parent Liaison, 269-250-9665

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