February 2021


Great Start Collaborative News

Join us March 4th at 1pm!

Our March GSC Quarterly Meeting will be held via Zoom. We are delighted to have Bethany Foote and Laura Ynclan joining us to discuss School Readiness and Jayme Vosovic from Kids Count to share data specific to our county.
Click here to RSVP. An email will be sent to the address you provide in your RSVP.
Remember to save the date for June 3rd 2021.

School Readiness Survey

The pandemic has brought many challenges for children and families, but it has also created an opportunity for reflection. As we work to advocate for young children and to grow an awareness of the importance of the early years of development, taking advantage of this opportunity is important. We want to hear from you! Please fill out this survey as a group or an individual. Thank you for your input!


Talking is Teaching in the Community


Let's Talk About Community

This month, Talking is Teaching is exploring the theme of COMMUNITY. And although our sense of "community" may be different these days due to limitations from the pandemic, teaching our young children about the value of community never changes. Why is community important to children and how do we teach them?
Explore these questions and more by participating in our upcoming events:

Let's Talk about COMMUNITY Virtual Parent Skill-Building Session
Wednesday, February 17 from 1:30 - 2pm.
Parents and caregivers are invited to explore the theme, Let's Talk About COMMUNITY, 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.

Each month, families who participate in our Talking Is Teaching events receive a themed bundle. February's Theme is Community so each family will receive books, toys and materials related to Community!

Save The Date

You and your little ones (ages 0-5) are invited to a Talking is Teaching Playgroup on Thursday, March 8th at 10:00am. Come explore this month's theme: Let's Talk About Nature! We will read a story, sing some songs, and do some fun interactive activities together. Following the playgroup, your family will receive a bag with a book and Talking is Teaching ideas for more ways that you can talk, read and sing with your little one at home! All participants will also be entered into a raffle to win a $25 Gift Card!


Books for Babies

We are so excited to announce that we sent our first shipment of "Books For Babies" off to Kalamazoo County babies born in January 2021. Each family receives a beautiful new book and a letter from their local superintendent welcoming them to their future school district! Thanks to everyone who helped get this project off the ground, especially Deirdre (pictured here heading off to the post office on a VERY cold February day)!

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Parent Meeting Updates

Virtual Parent Cafe

Parent Cafes
Connect with other parents & caregivers and talk about the challenges and victories of raising a family!

Tuesday, February 16th, 7:30-8:30

Virtual Parent Coalition Meeting

Parent Coalition Meeting
Your voice matters! We will discuss ways we can help support families and influence early childhood initiatives in our community.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 7:30-8:30pm
Thursday, February 25th, 1:30-2:30pm


Great Start Collaborative Staff

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

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.

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