“There must be a profound recognition that parents are the first teachers and that education begins before formal schooling and is deeply rooted in the values, traditions, and norms of family and culture.”

– Anonymous

To learn more about the Great Start Collaborative of Wexford, Missaukee, and Manistee counties initiatives’, events and resources click below.


Early Childhood Partners will know what services are available and how to refer parents.

Objective 1.1:

Improve Early Childhood Partners’ knowledge of services available to families

1.1.1 Create a centralized location for all available resources to be displayed and accessed

1.1.2 Promote opportunities for early childhood partners to network

Objective 1.2:

Improve Early Childhood Partners’ knowledge of how to refer families to available services

1.2.1 Create a cross reference tool for making referrals that identifies contact information and eligibility requirements for each program

Objective 1.3:

Improve Early Childhood Partner participation within the Great Start Collaborative

1.3.1 Create an infrastructure that promotes shared goals and understanding across early childhood providers


There will be a common understanding of school readiness and the importance of early childhood learning.

Objective 2.1:

Provide necessary structure for early childhood partners to develop school readiness common language

2.1.1 Identify partners and convene a cross sector workgroup from the community to specifically address school readiness common language (MISD)

2.1.2 Develop school readiness common language for county wide use (MISD)

2.1.3 Create publications that include a child developmental continuum that can be used to communicate with schools, education professionals, and the community at large (MISD)

2.1.4 Disseminate consistent school readiness information to the community, schools, and families county wide (MISD)

Objective 2.2:

Increase awareness and understanding of school readiness and child development from birth to age 8 for parents and the community

2.2.1 Provide training and opportunities for parents, preschool and K-12 teachers, and the community at large to have access to consistent information regarding school readiness and child development from birth to age 8.

Objective 2.3:

Increase communication between preschool staff, kindergarten staff, early elementary staff, parents, and the community at large regarding school readiness targets and transitions

2.3.1 Develop a process for K and PK teachers to meet regularly to exchange information and plan for transitions (WMISD)

2.3.2 Include early elementary (K through 3rd grade) teachers and administrators in School Readiness Advisory Committee meetings.

Objective 2.4:

Support access to a variety of preschool options for three and four year olds regardless of ability to pay

2.4.1 Support the Manistee County Preschool Scholarship Program (MISD)

2.4.2 Wexford Missaukee Area (WMISD) will consider beginning a preschool scholarship program following the lead of the Manistee group (MISD)


Parents will have access to developmentally appropriate materials and supports available for use at home with their children.

Objective 3.1:

Help parents understand what is developmentally appropriate behavior and what toys and tools can help promote early learning

3.1.1 Teach and promote natural learning opportunities in everyday experiences

3.1.2 Promote Cares Kits and explain to parents and others how to use these kits

3.1.3 Provide information to parents about what is developmentally appropriate behavior

Objective 3.2:

Increase parent awareness of community resources and events

3.2.1 Increase resource and event materials provided during home visitor program visits

3.2.2 Utilize social media and the business community to promote resources and events


Services and supports to families will be available and easily accessible in a stigma and judgement free environment.

Objective 4.1:

Providers will better understand the complex needs of families and have the skills, resources, information, and tools to serve them.

4.1.1 Assess the training needs of local service providers (agency staff, child care providers, early childhood educators, etc.) and implement on-going system of professional development including orientation and follow up.

4.1.2 Community resources to inform and support parents will be provided in a family-friendly format

Objective 4.2:

Families will be better able to access the system of services available in the community

4.2.1 Parents have skills and resources to successfully advocate for their children’s’ needs

4.2.2 Parents will have a voice in system planning and service delivery