The Great Start Parent Coalition Overview
Across the state of Michigan, the Early Childhood Investment Corporation and the Great Start Collaboratives have convened a network of Great Start Parent Coalitions (GSPC), of parents with children under the age of 12 years old. They serve as the parent voice, cheerleaders, thought-leaders, teachers, students, coaches, and team members. The number of parents and guardians who can join the coalition is unlimited. In our county, the parents have formed a strong coalition to lend voice and hand to the belief that every child pre-birth to age eight needs and deserves a Great Start in life. It has been the assertive actions of early childhood supporters statewide that have minimized, delayed, and stopped program and service cuts in the state of Michigan.
Great Start recognizes the importance of getting an early start to create healthy and safe conditions for children so their futures are bright. The Parent Coalition voluntarily comes together to talk about and raise awareness of the importance of investing in a unified and complete early childhood system. The coalition has been involved in activities such as forming a committee for the construction of a Splash Pad in Ludington, the creation of baby pantries, and promoting the use of the Ages & Stages Questionnaire to help families assess the developmental growth of their young children. We offer free trainings to provide important and valuable information to parents, such as CPR/First Aid Classes and guest speakers on topics like Love & Logic, nutrition, immunizations, etc. We also have work groups that parents are welcome and encouraged to lend their voice of experience.
The Mission of the Great Start Parent Coalition
To help ensure that every child in Mason, Lake and Oceana Counties is safe, healthy, and eager to succeed in school and in life. To assure a coordinated system of community resources and support to help all Mason, Lake and Oceana County’s families provide a great start for their children from pre-birth to age eight.
The Purpose of the Great Start Parent Coalition
- To assist in building public support and will for early childhood investment through parent voice and educational activities at the local and state level
- To support and be engaged in driving the work of the Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Collaborative
- To serve as the parent voice to the Great Start Collaborative, giving them a way to better understand the needs and concerns of all families in our community
- To educate policy-makers on the importance of investing in the first eight years of life and the essential role that parents and families play in the lives of young children. The Coalition supports the work of the Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Collaborative but also has the authority to support other work in the community that it deems appropriate and necessary for the good of children and families.
Ways to Get Involved
- Regularly attend and participate in Parent Coalition meetings
- Support Parent Coalition and Great Start Collaborative activities and events
- Actively share information about the Parent Coalition through your circle of friends, family, and acquaintances
- Volunteer at Parent Coalition and Great Start Collaborative events
- Visit and/or make calls to your legislators
- Offer feedback about your experiences with early childhood initiatives, programs, and services
Parents who are members of the Great Start Parent Coalition are volunteers. Support for child care and transportation is provided through on site childcare at meetings and trainings, and gas cards. A meal or refreshments are also provided at most meetings and trainings.
Levels of Membership
We encourage parents to get involved with the Great Start Parent Coalition to the extent that they are able to do so. We acknowledge the busy lives our families lead and aim to meet the availability of all schedules through various participation levels.
All Parent Coalition members should:
- Support the full and active participation of other Parent Coalition members
- Respect the diversity of opinions that emerge in our discussions
- Assist in the recruitment of new members and in helping us to “spread the word” about our efforts to other community organizations and community members.
Level 1 – Supporter
Support activities and events by actively sharing information through your circle.
Make calls and/or send e-mails to your legislators.
Write letters to your legislators and Letters to the Editor regarding early childhood issues.
Level 2 – Participant
In addition to Level 1 activities…
Participate in at least 3 activities/trainings per year.
Volunteer for at least 1 project per year.
Can serve on Great Start Collaborative work groups and committees and/or offer feedback on the work being done.
Level 3 – Core
In addition to Level 1 & 2 activities…
Has the opportunity to take on or pursue leadership opportunities if desired.
Helps to develop the Annual Work Plan and Strategic Plan.
May be a voting member of the Great Start Collaborative.
- Parent to parent communication.
- Social networking activities with other parents.
- Social opportunities for your children.
- Access to a network of support from other parents.
- Learning opportunities on topics that involve parenting and children.
- Helping our community develop a unified statement of standards with regards to early childhood services.
- Helping to increase parent leadership within our community.
- Helping improve the conditions of young children ages pre-birth to age 8 in our county.
- Helping promote laws and policies which create safe and healthy communities for young children by using your authentic parent voice.
- The opportunity to learn more about local resources available to families with young children.