January 2021

Since the beginning of the year, we have all experienced a lot of emotions. In our community, vaccinations are underway and bringing with them new hope. Racial injustice and disparities continue in our community but new conversations are happening and concrete action is taking place. On Jan. 6th, insurgents attacked our Nation's Capitol killing 5 people and injuring many more. Since then, an undercurrent of fear about potential violence and impacts to our democracy has been palpable. Through it all, it is important to speak directly with our youngest ones in order to keep them informed and to settle their fears. Check out this article from the LA Times for concrete tips for processing the attack on the U.S. Capital.


Talking is Teaching

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It's a New Year, and with that, an opportunity for a fresh start! Teachers, care providers, guardians and parents all deserve to take a deep breath and acknowledge the challenge of this past year and the effort and energy it has required from us all. One of the main messages for parents in Talking is Teaching is, "you have what it takes." You already have the resiliency, the intuition, the skills, and the love to be your child's first and best teacher. And as we continue to stay at home and stay safe, we hope Talking is Teaching can be an important resource to families in the months to come. Please consider joining us for our monthly virtual events below.

Let's Talk About PLAY Virtual Parent Skill-building Session
Wednesday, January 20 from 1:30 - 2pm.
Parents and caregivers are invited to explore the theme, Let's Talk About PLAY, and offer ideas and strategies to help grow our children's young brains! The meeting will take place on Zoom and last 30 minutes. All you will need is a device to join the meeting, a relaxing spot, and your favorite snack or beverage. A $50 gift card will be raffled during the session. Fill out the form at the link above and we will email you the zoom meeting link.

Please also mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
Let's Talk About Community Virtual Playgroup - February 4, 10-10:30 am
Let's Talk About Community Parent Skill-building Session - February 17th, 1:30-2 pm

If you would like to incorporate Talking is Teaching messaging, materials, and resources into your work with children and families, please reach out to Jen Stroven, Campaign Manager, at or by calling 269.250.9701. Virtual staff and volunteer trainings are available for scheduling. Come join the campaign!

Each month, families who participate in our Talking Is Teaching events receive a themed bundle. January's theme is PLAY so each family received books, toys and materials related to PLAY!


Parent Meeting Updates

Virtual Parent Cafe

Tuesday, January 19th 7:30pm-8:30pm
The Parent Cafe is designed to be a space for parents and caregivers to talk about the challenges and victories of raising a family. Schedule some time for yourself to connect with other parents in the community! We hope to see you there!
Click here to sign up.

Virtual Parent Coalition Meeting

Tuesday, January 26th, 7:30-8:30pm Click here to sign up.
Thursday, January 28th 1:30-2:30pm Click here to sign up.
Parent Coalition Meetings are opportunities for parents and caregivers to connect and take action on ways we can help support families in our community. There is an evening and daytime session so that you can select which one works best for your schedule. Your voice matters!


Featured Community Resource

What is WIC?

It is a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC Provides healthy foods, nutrition education and infant feeding support. WIC helps provide around $50/month per qualifying participant in groceries. WIC recognizes breastfeeding as the optimal way to nourish infants. WIC provides breastfeeding support for mothers through classes, peer counseling, support groups, and supplies.

Who Qualifies for WIC?

Pregnant and Postpartum women, infants and children up to the age of 5. Check out the income guidelines.

For more info please call 269-373-5002 or visit Kalamazoo County's website.

Due to COVID-19, you do not have to come into the office to sign up.

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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

Jen Stroven, Talking is Teaching Campaign Manager, 269-250-9701

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