A Brief History of the Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Collaborative
Here in Mason, Lake and Oceana (MLO) counties, we have a strong history of collaboration; we have come together repeatedly throughout the years to address the needs of children and their families. As we entered the 21st Century, we began to understand the vital importance of quality early childhood support, education and services. Brain research began focusing on the critical period of early childhood learning. We were faced with clear, compelling evidence that investment in early childhood services benefits not only the children, but has tremendous benefits for the entire community (including long term economic benefits). This issue gained traction at the state level, with Governor Granholm proposing an early childhood initiative called “Great Start” in her 2004 State of the State address.
The Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) was soon created (2005), and within a year, the first 21 GSC’s around the state were funded. We received funding locally to begin our Start Up Phase in October 2008. Over the next several months our first director and three parent liaisons were hired, an Executive Team was formed, recruitment of GSC membership began and our Vision and Mission were drafted. Since then, we have weathered multiple changes in staff, changes in membership, the drafting, revision and implementation of numerous plans and policies, and have dealt with various budget complexities. Yet our GSC is still strong and focused on the task ahead.
The GSC belongs to you – our community! Our membership is diverse (parents, community members, business, health and human services, and a variety of other vital community organizations), and we each have a role in turning the GSC Vision into a reality for our children. The original purpose of the Great Start Parent Coalition (GSPC) was to:
- Build public support for Early Childhood Investment Serve as a sounding board for the parents who participate in the GSC meetings
- Provide a “customer service” perspective to organizational members of the GSC Lend support to GSC efforts
While areas of focus (goals and strategies) may change through time, the core mission of the GSPC remains the same. The strength of our GSC comes through the strength of our GSPC and together we work to achieve our Vision!