Saginaw County Great Start Collaborative
Saginaw County Great Start Collaborative 
February 2015

Cabin Fever  

As the cold sets in and the kiddos are going stir crazy, families need to get creative - so here are some ideas for fun family time:

  • Play board games and unplug from the electronics
  • Make room for the new toys/gifts by cleaning out the gently used ones and donating them
  • Go ice skating at Hoyt Park in Saginaw and spend some energy without spending money! (Check out the details below)

Hoyt Park Ice Skating at 1574 S. Washington in Saginaw features a warming house with bathrooms, free hot chocolate, cookies and $2 skate rentals with valid ID. 



February 7th - Family Skate from noon to 4 p.m.
February 8th from 2-4:30 p.m. (3-4 pm skate with Saginaw Spirit Hockey team)

February 14th from noon to 4 p.m. with outhouse racing, music and sledding



Parent Voice

Family-Friendly Business Spotlight Winner


KahnreceptionAppreciation Reception Honoring 
Senator Roger Kahn - Great Success!

On January 26, 2015, the Great Start Collaborative honored former Senator Roger Kahn's early childhood legacy at an Appreciation Reception. Among a few of Senator Kahn's greatest accomplishments while in office were the Healthy Michigan Plan/Medicaid Expansion which provided 480,000 people health insurance that didn't have it before, as well as a significant increase in funding for Michigan's Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). GSRP is high-quality preschool for 4-year-olds.


Senator Kahn praised the work of the Great Start Collaborative and other supporters of families in Saginaw County, stating "you have had success with bottom up approaches and need to preserve these programs that start in the homes. Learning doesn't just occur in school settings; it happens in day care, at home, when you look at a bird in a tree."


The four other state leaders in attendance were Senator Ken Horn (who won the 32nd District seat vacated by Kahn), Representative Tim Kelly, Representative Vanessa Guerra and State Board of Education member Pamela Pugh-Smith. Each spoke during the reception. Kahn noted that we are blessed with a strong group of legislators who are interested in early childhood issues.


In addition to sharing Senator Kahn's successes while in office, Great Start Collaborative board member Mary Ellen Johnson also presented him with an award. This award of "Excellence" was beautifully engraved with words of thanks for his hard work, devotion, and commitment to children. Monica Latoski from Kinder Kare also presented Senator Kahn with a handmade book that included testimonials from parents and caregivers on their child's experiences as a result of receiving high-quality preschool through GSRP. In addition to the testimonials, children added artwork to each page.


Special words of thanks go out to Kinder Kare, Saginaw ISD, Mary Ellen Johnson, Saginaw ISD Head Start, Great Start Collaborative Parent Coalition and   

Monica Latoski and Mary Ellen Johnson presenting 
gifts of appreciation to Senator Roger Kahn


Great Start Collaborative 

Strategic Planning Underway!  


strategicplanningSaginaw County Great Start Collaborative is one of several counties' Great Start Collaboratives in the state embarking on Strategic Planning this year to create our new three-year plan for 2016-2018. This process will take us through a scan of our early childhood system to examine our strengths and weaknesses to update our goals and objectives.  


The first meeting with contracted facilitator Kate Martin was held on January 12th. Kate has collected data and research about families and children in our county and presented her findings. More than 30 people attended to review the data and start looking for priorities and additional questions to ask. 


We need to include many voices in this process - including yours! This will involve large group meetings, smaller focus group discussions and surveys.  These discussions and activities will take place throughout February and March. 


According to the Office of Great Start, our Strategic Plan serves as the basis for directing the use of funds. Overall, a strong GSC strategic plan responds to the following questions:

  • What is the current status of young children, their families, and the local early childhood system compared with the early childhood outcomes?
  • What system changes need to be made to attain Michigan's early childhood outcomes?
  • What specifically will our community do to implement the system change strategies in response to needs identified while maintaining areas of strength?
  • How will our community know we are making progress?

We will work together, including many diverse perspectives to develop our Strategic Plan and a new Action Plan, which will direct our work into the future.


Read Aloud 15 MINUTES  
Saginaw County Great Start Collaborative and the Public Libraries of Saginaw have joined the national Read Aloud 15 MINUTES campaign. Read Aloud 15 MINUTES is a non-profit organization that is working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care. 

When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school. Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to improve a child's readiness to read and learn. Watch for more information in March or visit


ParentVoiceParent Voice

The Parent Coalition had a busy December! Our holiday party was held December 8th and we had a great turnout, with close to 50 people - including some new faces. All the families shared a favorite holiday memory or tip, and two families won door prize bags with goodies and a gift card.   


At the end of January, parent Yalonda Freeman, a representative on the Office of Great Start Advisory Team, spoke to the OGS board in Lansing about parent involvement in Saginaw County. She was one of three parents to represent her county for the meeting.  


Please save the date of February 23rd for our next Parent Evening. We are hosting a "Read with Your Children" evening at St. John Lutheran Church, 915 Federal in Saginaw. Guest speaker Cheryl Priest will have stories, songs and a craft to share with families. We'll also have a book exchange and tips for reading with your child. Dinner is provided as is childcare if necessary.  


Anyone interested may RSVP to Jill Armentrout @ 810-441-5347 or Lorisa Bellinger @ 989-249-7063 by February 18th. 

Family-Friendly Business Spotlight Winner
The GSC is honoring Women of Colors Inc. of Saginaw with its Family-Friendly Business Spotlight Award for January-February 2015.


Women of Colors Inc. (WOC) is an independent nonprofit organization active in Saginaw since 1993, with their mission to promote multicultural diversity and enhance community relations in the Great Lakes Bay Region by empowering women, providing community service, mentoring youth and collaborating with other organizations.


The Parent Coalition is specifically honoring WOC for its GEMS: Great Empowering Motivational Sessions youth mentoring. Groups include Girl Pride, Sugar & Spice and Young Men Who Dare for children and teens. Last year, they mentored more than 100 youth, said President Evelyn McGovern. GEMS include monthly mentoring sessions and one-day workshops to provide community support to youth and parents to enhance family living. Objectives include providing life skills, promoting community service, preparing youth for leadership and helping them identify their gifts and talents.


savethedateSAVE THE DATE!
May 7, 2015
3:00 - 7:00 PM

More to come soon!


Julie Kozan               Jill Armentrout                       Lorisa Bellinger
GSC Director            GSC Lead Parent Liaison           GSC Co-Parent Liaison
989.399.7452           810.441.5347                          989.249.7063

You can also visit our website at

All children will enter kindergarten safe, healthy and ready to succeed 
in school and in life.