S aginaw County Great Start Collaborative 
April 2015

Spring is here!    

We are so happy to feel the warmth returning to mid-Michigan! April is the Month of the Young Child, sponsored statewide by the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children.  In Saginaw County, many childcare centers help highlight these weeks with parents. For 2015, each week focuses on a different aspect of child development.

  • April1-4: Physical Development
  • April 5-11 Social Development
  • April 12-18 Emotional Development
  • April 19-30 Cognitive Development

Children's early years are the foundation for growth and development. Children are constantly developing and learning. What they are learning depends on their social-emotional health, physical health, relationships, and daily interactions and experiences.

Get involved by distributing purple ribbons, displaying children's artwork at your business, sharing MOYC calendars or hosting a Kite Day festival. 

Visit miaeyc.org for more ideas.   




The Great Start Collaborative (GSC) is knee deep in strategic planning for 2016-18. The new strategic plan will set the framework for the next 3 years. Currently, the GSC Director and Parent Liaisons are visiting many agencies, groups and locations, gathering input on needs, gaps in available services, and mindsets - as they relate to

families with young children. We would like to thank the following agencies/groups for allowing us

the opportunity to gather their input and/or meet with families at their facility:

  • Alignment Saginaw
  • Covenant HealthCare
  • Department of Human Services - Child Protective Services
  • Department of Human Services - Foster Care
  • Early Head Start
  • East Side Soup Kitchen
  • Great Start Collaborative Parent Coalition
  • Head Start Policy Council
  • Incredible Years Participants
  • Merrill Community Child Care
  • Merrill Village Council
  • Michigan Child Care Centers (Downtown Saginaw, Frankenmuth, Freeland)
  • Quality Child Care Initiative
  • Saginaw County Superintendents and Elementary Administration
  • St. Charles Public Library
  • Underground Railroad
  • WIC - Chesaning Location
  • WIC - St. Charles Location


Our next Strategic Planning session is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 23. For more information on upcoming strategic planning meetings, please contact Julie Kozan at jkozan@sisd.ccor 989-399-7452.  


Great Start Collaborative members working on team building with the Marshmallow Challenge during the March board meeting. .


pediatricSpotlight: Pediatric and Family Health Subcommittee 


The main focus of this Subcommittee is reducing root causes of infant mortality in Saginaw County. After conducting a survey of new parents this summer, subcommittee members reviewed the 97 compiled responses and chose three main topics to work on this year.

The survey includes questions about healthy pregnancy, safe sleep and sources of information for moms who are pregnant or have a child 2 or younger. We would still like to distribute the survey to more parents throughout the county, but will work toward our initial goals at the same time.


Subcommittee members voted on their top 3 topics/issues to address this year. They are:

  1. Addressing disparities in infant mortality - The rate of death before the first year is higher for black babies than white babies, especially in the City of Saginaw.
  2. Messages about the importance of full-term pregnancy - Many respondents thought babies would be healthy even if born before 37 weeks.
  3. Covenant HealthCare's New Baby and You binder - This book is reviewed and updated every five years.

At the December meeting, the members broke up into small groups to develop goals, objectives, activities and timelines for each topic. Prioritizing goals continued in February. The Subcommittee meets again April 14, 2015.




Great Start Day at the Zoo is May 7
The fifth annual Great Start Day at the Zoo is coming May 7 to the Children's Zoo at Celebration Square, 1730 S. Washington in Saginaw. The FREE event is sponsored by the Great Start Collaboratives of Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties.

The fun is from 3-7 p.m. and features hands-on kids' activities and new learning centers highlighting children's physical, emotional and educational development as well as resources for parents. Also enjoy entertainment including a stage magician, storytelling and strolling magic and music.


Train and carousel rides are available for $1 each. No registration is required. Zoo concessions are open for food purchases. Check www.greatstartsaginaw.org for weather condition updates the day of the event. 


Parent Voice

In February, the Parent Coalition hosted a "Reading With Your Children" evening with books, songs and a craft presented by Cheryl Priest, a CMU early childhood professor. In spite of the frigid temperatures, we had some brave souls who attended and we ended the evening with some aweso me masks created by the children! Sena tor Ken Horn even stopped by to deliver book marks for families.   


The Books for Breakfast event in March  was a great success. The Parent Coalition and Birth to Five program provided homemade Play-doh and crafting activities for the children while parents were given tips on creative reading ideas, Parent Coalition events and meeting dates, Birth to Five information, Imagination Library registration and many more resources. Best of all, everyone left with the recipe to make their very own Play-doh! Also in March, the Parent Coalition held their morning planning meeting. We brainstormed ways to increase involvement in subcommittee work and discussed new ideas for PC meeting venues and activities.


Please save the date of April 27, 2015. We will be hosting a Parent Evening and training at St. John Lutheran Church, 915 Federal in Saginaw. The event will bring together parents and childcare providers to discuss child development, behavior and addressing the special needs of every child. Dinner and childcare will be provided. Anyone interested may RSVP to Jill Armentrout @ 810-441-5347 jillsarmentrout@gmail.com or Lorisa Bellinger @ 989-249-7063 magicmom3@sbcglobal.net 



Family-Friendly Business Spotlight Winner
The Saginaw County Great Start Collaborative is honoring The Maple Grille of Hemlock with its Family-Friendly Business Spotlight Award for March-April 2015.

The restaurant at 13105 Gratiot in Hemlock is located on six acres, which allows them to grow and harvest a majority of the produce and various ingredients used on site in a wood-fired kitchen.
Hudson, son of Maple Grille Owner Josh Schaeding, accepts the award.

Parents who volunteer with the Saginaw County Great Start Parent Coalition helped choose this award designation to honor its community service and help especially to young parents.

"It is a family-owned business that definitely makes families feel welcome!" said the parent who nominated the restaurant.
"Having two young children, going out to eat is something I cringe when thinking about. Not at the Maple Grille!
"They have an area at the restaurant just for kids to be kids - large chalkboard to color on, a penny horse to
ride, coloring books and more. They also provide bouncers and such for younger kids.
"They do many fundraiser and charities at the restaurant for local organizations including Boy Scouts, Alzheimer's and others. Overall it is just a very welcoming and fun
place to be for families."   



savethedateRemember Moms and Grandmas
on their special day
May 10, 2015


Julie Kozan               Jill Armentrout                       Lorisa Bellinger
GSC Director            GSC Lead Parent Liaison           GSC Co-Parent Liaison
jkozan@sisd.cc         jillsarmentrout@gmail.com       magicmom3@sbcglobal.net
989.399.7452           810.441.5347                          989.249.7063

You can also visit our website at www.greatstartsaginaw.org

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