Great Start Collaborative Workgroups

The purpose of the Literacy Workgroup is to provide literacy education, support, and resources to children, families, and the community partners that support families. This work is varied and includes handing out free books to children at various community events (i.e., parent cafes, playgroups, literacy night at the children's museum, community resource fair, etc.), book baskets at various community businesses, books for all the kindergarten and preschool readiness bags, and all of the efforts of our local “Talking is Teaching” campaign which includes a new playground in Munising’s McQuesten park, various reading nooks (WIC clinics, laundry mat, women’s shelter), and talking is teaching kits for every expectant mother in our community. This year, the group will be putting in a storywalk and two more “Talking is Teaching” reading nooks.

Reading Nook from the Marquette-Alger GSC Literacy Workgroup

The purpose of the Social-Emotional Health/CAN Council is to prevent child abuse/neglect and buffer adverse childhood experiences through positive experiences, community resilience, and social emotional development. This workgroup supports and reports on the work of social-emotional health that is woven into the other workgroups and everything we do. A big focus of this workgroup is the 5 Protective Factors that make families strong (Parental Resilience, Social-Emotional Health, Concrete Support in Times of Need, Social Connections, and Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development). The 5 Protective Factors are the basis of our popular Parent Cafe series which we host several times each year. The cafes begin with a family style dinner (on us) and then free-childcare (on us) and activities for children while the parents enjoy a parent cafe (based on the community cafe model) and utilizes Parent Cafe in a Box and Strong Roots Parent Cafe.

5 protective factors to make a strong family

The purpose of the Physical Health Workgroup is to educate families about the benefits of physical health and play and provide family friendly opportunities to experience this. We have a special emphasis on the benefits of nature-based play. Each week, our group facilitates a Friday nature-based hike, where we meet up with families at various locations around town to hike, sled, swim, etc. explore and play outside. The largest event of the collaborative comes out of this workgroup with our annual “Sharing Nature with Children at Lakenenland Sculpture Park.” Hundreds of people come out for this event each year and we plan to continue on with our 7th annual this April (for Earth Day) on Saturday, April 20, 2024. Throughout the year, we host a variety of other healthy-based events/activities such as “Smoothie Making at the Children’s Museum,” sledding, skiing, and snowshoeing events, and parent and educator professional development classes on the benefits of nature-based play for children.

Friday Nature Based Playgroup

The purpose of the School Readiness Advisory Committee is to assure children and families are provided with high quality support, education, and resources to be ready for school at the time of entry. We have a collaborative group that includes Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) representation and review of the great start data set each year. The major success story of this workgroup is each year (for the past three years) we provide every child in our two County service areas (approx. 725 children) with a kindergarten readiness bag full of resources to support, educate, and prepare children and families for kindergarten. The positive feedback we have received from these bags from children, families, and the schools is overwhelming and we are proud to be able to continue this project for the 2024/2025 school year. In addition to our kindergarten readiness bags, we will be creating preschool readiness kits this year, as well, which will be handed out at preschool screenings.

Kindergarten Readiness Bag, Sawyer, 2023 Kindergarten Readiness Bag, Alex, 2023