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SPRING 2011 edition

Great Start Collaborative Eaton County’s

Valuing Every Child, Every Day!

Eaton Great Start presents local children’s author, Deborah Diesen There will be book giveaways at both FREE events!

Friday, April 15 6:30 - 8 p.m. Dart Bank 1020 Charlevoix Dr. Grand Ledge

Saturday, April 16 10 - 11:30 a.m. Eaton Int. School District Building 1790 Packard Hwy. Charlotte

Eaton Great Start is very excited to be bringing local children’s author, Deborah Diesen, to our community for our Month of the Young Child Celebration. The Month of the Young Child is an opportunity for programs, organizations, communities and families to focus on the needs of young children and their families. One way Eaton Great Start does this is by providing an opportunity for families with children birth to five (older siblings welcome) to engage in activities that are both beneficial and fun for young children. Mrs. Diesen helped us celebrate month of The Young Child in 2009 with her book, The Pout-Pout Fish. This event was extremely successful. And so, it seemed appropriate, to ask Mrs. Diesen to again join us following the publication of her book, The Pout-Pout Fish and the Big, Big Dark. Mrs. Diesen will read her story at each event. She will speak with the children about her books and about being an author. Several local agencies will be providing literacy extension activities. Community Action Teams from Eaton County, M.S.U. Extension, Early-On, Parents as Teachers, Delta Township Library and Charlotte Public Schools are just some of the groups that will be providing additional fun. Children will have an opportunity to “go fishing”, make eye catching tissue paper fish, and participate in other “fish” related themes. Eaton Great Start provides many local and county-wide events for children and their families throughout the year. These events are literacy based and generally free of charge. There are also weekly Toddler Time groups that meet in almost every community in Eaton County. To learn more about the events and activities occurring throughout Eaton County please visit and view the activities calendar or find us on Facebook. Please contact Nikki Selleck with any questions, 517-541-8795.

For everything Early Childhood in Eaton County, go to This Publication is a collaboration of agencies, schools, businesses and individuals supporting early childhood. Made possible by grants from Michigan Department of Education, Eaton County Juvenile Justice, and Early Childhood Investment Corporation and support from Early On, Head Start, United Way, and other local agencies and groups.

2 • Spring 2011 edition




Divorce doesn’t have

to damage your children

Have you received your Welcome Baby Bag yet? Eaton Great Start gives out Welcome Baby Bags to parents of Eaton County who have had a baby that is birth to six months old. Welcome Baby Bags are bags filled with resources for Eaton County. Inside the bags are items such as Toddler Time information, baby magazines, samples for mom and baby, a book, puppet, ready kits, information on activities that are free for families with children birth to five years old. There is a form that is the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, children who are between the ages of birth and five years old will receive a free book every month till their fifth birthday. They are age appropriate books that grow with your child. Safe sleep information is also included plus much more! These are wonderful gift bags for parents that are just bringing home their bundle of joy. If you are a parent who would like to receive a bag or know of a parent with a baby between the ages of birth to six months of age you can contact Kim Thelen at 517-526-4186 or email, to get a bag delivered or to pick up at a convenient location near you. Also visit our website for additional information of activities the Eaton Great Start has to offer.

Do you want be a part of enriching early childhood in your local community?  

The effects of divorce on children can be many or few, depending on how parents handle things. If parents fight in front of the children, the effects can be devastating. If one parent says negative things about the other parent, the child will feel caught in the middle not knowing how to respond. If parents make an effort to be civil and to keep the children removed from the tension of the marital breakup, children will weather the divorce in a more functional manner. Offering children support is often difficult for parents who are in the middle of the situation and feeling overwhelmed themselves. Parents can be preoccupied at a time when kids need daily routines and stability and consistent parenting. Children usually get less attention when they need more. According to the experts, there are six interrelated psychological tasks which are considered crucial to children’s stability following divorce. Children need to work their way through these steps to come out on the other side of the break up in a healthy manner. These include: • Acknowledge the reality of the marital rupture • Disengage from parental conflict • Pursue their customary activities again • Resolve their feelings related to the partial or total loss of a parent from the family unit • Work through their feelings of anger and guilt • Accept the permanence of the divorce/break up Connecting children with other resources and supports is essential. Research has shown that many children cope better when they are with their peers who are also experiencing divorce.

The Children’s Divorce Workshop developed and facilitated by Lori Poyer, LMSW, ACSW, of Peaceful Balance Counseling offers just that. The workshop offers eight sessions of an hour and half each to children ages 6-12 and uses games and activities to help children through the process. Each child creates a scrapbook of their activities and a “Feel Better Bag” with items that help them cope. Each eight session workshop serves twelve children. Since its inception in 2008, the program has served nearly 100 Eaton County children. The workshop is free to Eaton County families. It is funded with Juvenile Justice funds. Sign up is done through the SMILE program, by filling out a registration form, or by calling Peaceful Balance Counseling. Depending on continued funding, the next set of workshops will begin in October of 2011. It is on a first come-first served basis, so early registration is encouraged in order to start the intake process. Please contact Lori at Peaceful Balance Counseling at 543-1150 for questions, or to be placed on the waiting list.

Eaton County Great Start has Community Action Team’s available in Potterville, Olivet, Grand Ledge/Delta Township, Bellevue, Eaton Rapids, Charlotte and Maple Valley. These Communtiy Action Teams work to enhance events and happenings for children birth to five years of age.   Each Community Action Team meets approximately 10 -11 times throughout the year.  The meetings are about an hour long.  A Community Action Team plans, creates and oversees up to four local events each year.  The Great Start also  asks  Community Action Teams to participate in a few Countywide  child-friendly events throughout the year.  Each event is literacy based and geared towards birth to five year olds.  These events are family friendly and we encourage parent interaction.  We do hands-on literacy extension activities that allow children to have various sensory experiences.  A free book is also sent home with each family at the end of the event. Please consider joining with us and helping to better the early childhood experience in your hometown.    If you would like more information on a Community Action Team in your area please contact:

Grand Ledge/Delta Township: Kim Thelen, (517) 541-8733 Bellevue, Olivet, Charlotte:  Shelley Miller, (517) 541-8799 Eaton Rapids, Potterville, Maple Valley:  Nikki Selleck, (517) 541-8795

Nikki Selleck, Eaton Great Start Early Childhood Community Coordinator



Four-year-old tuition-free preschool applications are now being accepted Eaton Great Start is now accepting applications for the tuition free preschool, Great Start Readiness Preschool. The 2011 collaborative preschool applications may be found on under the preschool tab, or call 541-8749 to have one mailed to you. Parents are asked to complete the application and email, mail, or fax it to the address provided on the application. Any parent within the Eaton ISD service area, who is interested in the preschool program, is encouraged to complete the application and return it. Applications will be reviewed and directed to the local school districts who will contact parents.

Who can attend Great Start Readiness Preschool (GSRP)?

Children must meet eligibility requirements and be four years old, but not five, by Dec 1st. For 2011, children’s birth dates must be between Dec 1, 2006 and Nov 30, 2007. Eligibility includes families falling below the 200% of poverty, or who are considered educationally at-risk. Other considerations that may contribute to a child’s eligibility include: developmental or physical delays; single parents; parents who have not completed school; siblings who have had difficulties in school; parental unemployment; teen parents; prior involvement with early childhood services; parental absence due to military deployment, incarceration, hospitalization; English as Second Language families; parental history of substance abuse; child exposure to toxic substances; family history of child abuse or neglect.

Spring 2011 edition • 3

Eaton County Great Start has received



in preschool scholarships for 3-year-olds in Eaton County! For more information and the application, please visit

What is Great Start Readiness Preschool (GSRP)?

GSRP is a state funded preschool for children who are considered educationally at-risk. Preschool teachers are certified teachers who have an early childhood endorsement. Classrooms follow prescribed curriculums, are licensed under Child Day Care Licensing, and endorse the Program Quality Assessment program improvement model. The goal of GSRP is to give children the extra attention needed during the preschool year that will help them be ready for Kindergarten the following year.

Where are the GSRP classrooms?

Eaton ISD provides classrooms in Potterville, Grand Ledge, and next year in Maple Valley. Eaton Rapids Schools and Charlotte Schools provide classrooms within their districts.

When will my child attend?

GSRP is traditionally a half day program – either morning or afternoon. Actual times and dates may vary by program, but most attempt to stay close to the local school day schedule and run a slightly shorter school year than elementary school.

When will I know if my child is accepted?

GSRP staff begin reviewing applications in April, and will notify families who have applied by the end of the GSRP school year if they are preliminarily accepted. Final acceptance is dependent upon the funding received from the Michigan Department of Education for each classroom. Questions about the program may be directed to Eaton Great Start Director, Ronda Rucker, at 517-541-8987, or feel free to contact your local GSRP classroom.

Capital Area Community Services, Inc.

Head Start and Early Childhood Programs

FREE PRESCHOOL FOR ELIGIBLE FAMILIES Comprehensive preschool program for 3 and 4 year old children


Olivet & Bellevue: 543-2751

Charlotte, Potterville & Vermontville: 543-2751 Eaton Rapids: 663-7700 • Grand Ledge & Waverly: 482-1504


Head Start is ALSO for children with disabilities


4 • Spring 2011 edition


Join the Eaton Great Start Collaborative on the bus or meet us at the Michigan State Capitol Building!

Because you care about Michigan’s infants and young children, gather with others in the early childhood community and speak to those decision makers who directly impact our youngest learners. This year, a majority of legislators are new and have never heard the tremendous benefits early childhood programs and services bring to our state. Be a voice for children, stand together to ensure every child in Michigan arrives at the kindergarten door safe, healthy and ready for school success! Be a part of this growing community already in the thousands and do it while enjoying a family friendly day, with games, lunch, and more, free of charge! Go to to register, for event information. Please call Kimi Mead at 517-242-0371 or email for more details or busing information.

The Mission OF Eaton Great Start Parent Coalition

“To ensure every child in Eaton County has a GREAT start by feeling safe, being healthy and happy and having a ready-to-succeed attitude when they enter the doors of Kindergarten.” 

Thursday, May 19 at the Michigan State Capitol Building Star Power is supported by private contributions.

Be there Thursday, May 19, for Star Power 2011. Great Starts Here! Register today:


Name our mascot


and earn a Barnes & Noble Gift Card

Eaton Great Start has obtained a Bear Mascot, the only problem is, we do not have a name for our bear. YOU can help! We are announcing our name the Eaton Great Start bear contest. The winner will receive a $20 Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!

Name our mascot entry form Mascot Name:

Your Name:

Mailing Address:

Phone Number: Age: (if under 18)

Signature (Parent or Guardian if under 18):

Mail entries to: Eaton Great Start, Attention: Shelley Miller,311 W. First Street, Charlotte, MI 48813 Rules: Must reside, work, or go to school in Eaton County. In the event the winning mascot name is submitted by more than one person, ALL people who submitted the winning name will be entered into a drawing and one name will be randomly submitted for the winner. Employees of Eaton Great Start and their Immediate Family members are ineligible to enter. Entries must be received by April 25, 2011. (If submitting by mail, this is the last eligible postmark date) How to enter: Entries can be mailed. We will also be accepting entries at our Author Visit Event on Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16. Can submit an entry form at one of our area Toddler Times. E-mail your mascot name to, please include all the information required from the entry form. I understand that if my Mascot name is selected, my name will be used in newspaper articles announcing the Mascot’s name.

Wanted: Kids up to 5-years-old (Older siblings welcome too)

Join the Eaton Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalition for a break from the sun and many foot steps! We will be under the grandstand during the Eaton County 4-H Fair July 11th – July 16th. We will have many fun brain developing activities for the wee-ones (big-ones too), along with many county resources, registration for FREE daily book drawings and a private diaper changing area. Please contact Kimi Mead for further information at 517-242-0371 or Make it a GREAT experience!

Anchors Away: Come to the Park to Play

Toddler Time in the Park for the summer of 2011 will be starting on Tuesday, June 7 and run at 10 Eaton county parks in the month of June. Toddler Time in the park will take place from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. on select Tuesday, Wednesday and Thurs- days in June. Join us for some FREE fun aquatic stories, songs, finger plays and extension activities. Toddler time is for children birth to five, older siblings are always welcome. Each family will receive a book at the end of each Toddler Time in the park. Toddler Time in the park is funded by Eaton County United Way and Eaton Great Start. Visit for more information on this and other events from your local community action teams, you may also find us on facebook. Any questions, please call Shelley Miller at (517) 541-8799. The final schedule for which park we will be at on which day will be finalized and available in late April. Shelley Miller, Local Community Coordinator, Eaton Great Start

Spring 2011 edition • 5

Toddler Time

Stories, Story extension activities, motor activity Provided for children ages birth to 5 and their parent or caregiver. Toddler Time continues all summer at all sites. Bellevue-Lil Bronco’s Early Childhood Center (Former Elementary School)

Bellevue Fridays at 10 a.m. in the cafeteria Lil Bronco’s Early Childhood Center (Former Elementary School), located at 201 West St. Contact: Shelley Miller 269-986-0612

Charlotte Mondays at 10 a.m.

Eaton Intermediate School District (Gymnasium) , 1790 E. Packard Hwy. Contact: Jennifer Hankins 543-8435 or Heather Worden 541-1679

Dimondale Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Dimondale Presbyterian Church, 162 Bridge St. Contact: Connie Caron 517-930-1674

Eaton Rapids Fridays at 10 a.m. Union Street School, 501 Union Street Contact: Kim Estes 517-663-7795

Grand Ledge Mondays at 10 a.m. Neff Elementary School, 950 Jenne St Contact: Kim Novak 517-622-3489.

Mulliken Wednesday at 10 a.m. (Starting April 13) Roxand Township Hall, 142 Main St. (behind Fire Barn) Contact: Robbyn Hamilton 517-588-9871

Olivet Tuesday at 10:30

Burrage Library, Olivet College, 333 S. Main St. Contact: Judy Fales 269-749-7595

Potterville Tuesdays at 10 a.m.*

Benton Township District Library, 150 Library Lane (517) 645-2989, *Not always held every week so call or check out the calendar on our website for the dates.

Vermontville Wednesdays 10 a.m. Vermontville Township Public Library, 120 E. 1st Street Contact the Library for Schedule at 517-726-1362

Starting week of April 13th


Please check with individual locations for schedule changes. Toddler Time is a volunteer/parent-to-parent group. Volunteers are unpaid helpers of the local group who give their time to provide leadership. Location space is donated for use of the groups by the individual sites. For Early Childhood information visit

6 • Spring 2011 edition

Sharing Stories with Infants and Toddlers

Having a wide variety of board books available and allowing the toddler to show interest in the book can be the key to success when reading to them. Having the books displayed in a way that is accessible to a young child allows them to let you know when the time is right to share the story. It’s important to share stories throughout the day with them. During a walk with children when something catches their interest it could be time to share a familiar song about what caught their eye. For example cows in the field could bring on a chorus of Old MacDonald. Trying to share a story during a busy time, like right before lunch, sometimes is not as effective. This may be a time when using a song to tell a story can be more effective. Building relationships is one of the benefits of story time. Keeping a group small with no more than 3 children at a time, allows children to snuggle in and also be an active participant in the story. One or even a few children joining in the refrain of a story will

Are there health care options for my kids?

Question: If I am a parent that does not receive health insurance through my employment for my children, and have been denied coverage under Medicaid and MIChild, what other options do I have? Answer: The income eligibility levels for MiChild is 150 to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. The income eligibility levels for Healthy Kids (Medicaid) is under 150% of the FPL.



be less disruptive to the rest of the children in the home or class. A small group is also easier to keep interested through eye contact or touch. With a larger group it is more a matter of keeping order than sharing a story, taking away the enjoyment. Our attitude as we share a story is critical if we want story time to be enjoyed by infants and toddlers. Young children are observant of what we say and do, if we are enthusiastic and clearly enjoying the story it’s contagious. On the contrary boredom can also be relayed. It can take a lot of energy on the readers part to keep young children interested but is rewarding and worth the effort. If maintaining energy and expression is difficult for you, using props or puppets during story time may help keep the toddlers interest. Infant’s cues may be more difficult to catch; sounds and body language may be a few cues that assure you of their interest. As infants grow into toddlers they share words such as, “Again”, whenever possible read stories again and again to them. It’s important to observe children’s interest carefully and to follow their lead in choosing stories even if it doesn’t fit in with your plan. Pick a comfortable spot for you and the children. An infant may use a board book to explore or wave in the air, feeling texture,

and flipping pages, just be helpful in facilitating that exploration. When an infant seems ready point out the title and begin the story. Toddlers are usually more active participants in story times. It’s also important to watch for their cues that show interest in the story. Relating something from the story to a child’s everyday life is an important piece of storytelling too. “Oh look there is a duck in the story like we saw on our walk this morning, or look the Dad is going to work just like your Dad.” Many 2 or 3 year olds can memorize stories and this is an important step in emerging literacy. Some children will let you know if you skip a page or line, they like to hear all the words exactly the same every time. This should be respected as they are beginning to understand that letters and words have meaning and are predictable, the same every time. All children should have a right to the pleasures and benefits of stories. Adults should do all they can to assure that pleasure continues for a lifetime to produce a love and enjoyment for reading and learning.

For a family of four, the maximum income for MiChild is 44,700 in 2011. There are a few options, however...

doc), the health department has a program called Children’s Special Health Care Services.

1. If the family is right on the edge, and having health insurance for their child is very important, they might consider reducing the hours they work (and their income) to be under the guideline. 2. Health insurance for children on the open insurance market is relatively inexpensive. They can get a quote from BCBS, Priority Health, etc. 3. If their child has a chronic health condition or severe problem requiring specialists (a doctor other than a primary care

Eaton Great Start has received funding for

,000 $60 in 3 year old preschool

scholarships with a dollar for dollar match.

We need YOUR help to make sure we are able to maximize this funding for the most number we can in Eaton County. To help support and make a donation in any amount, please contact Ronda Rucker at 517-541-8987 or

Submitted by Cindy Van Neste, Great Parents Great Start Parent Educator

They will pay for a diagnostic visit and associated tests for free -- then if they are qualified for the program through their medical condition, they pay a monthly fee based on their income. Their child then has Medicaid coverage for that condition, only.  This program is available regardless of income, and is based on the diagnosis or condition of the child -- however, lots of conditions are covered.   You can call 517 541 2630, ext. 116 for more information about this coverage program.



“Build My Brain” is a series of five, free classes focusing on the amazing brain development, taking place in young children. The classes are provided through Eaton County’s Great Start Collaborative, the first Tuesday of each month at the Southridge Building (Michigan Works), 311 W. First St., Charlotte. Topics include: Building Sharper Minds; Build My Brain With Music; Build My Brain With words; Build My Brain With Science and Math; and Build My Brain With Music.

For information about this unique, educational opportunity, contact Cindy at 517-541-8793.



Spring 2011 edition • 7

Children’s early years are the foundation for growth and development. Children are constantly developing and learning. What they are learning depends on their physical health, social-emotional health, relationships, and daily interactions and experiences. The MOYC 2011 Focus Weeks highlight children’s development.

hy children Promote healt and families ehalf Advocate on bnd families of children a

munity Celebratehciposm partners y Recognize earl fessionals childhood pro

Month of the 2011 A P Child R I L Month of the Young Child Young

Help celebrate the Month of the Young Child! ® For information: (517)351-4183 or (800)336-6424 •

Early Years Are Learning Years™…Make Them Count!

Focus Weeks

Sunday S

Monday M

Tuesday T

Wednesday W

Thursday T

Learn about local and state Month of the Young Child activities and events.

Heather Wilson, Lansing Public Schools

Week One April 1-9 Social-Emotional Development

Week Two April 10-16 Cognitive Development

Week Three April 17-23 Language and Literacy

Week Four April 24-30 Physical Development


Be a postive role model; teach your child how to be caring.


Encourage children, over age 2, to drink water. The brain needs to be properly hydrated to be alert.


Read aloud to your child every day. It is essential for language development and for preparing your child to succeed as a reader.


Follow Safe Sleep practices.


Teach your child stress-relaxation strategies such as deep-breathing and exercising.


Engage your child in problem-solving. Problem-solving provides opportunities for new learning.


Repeat the sounds your infant makes to acknowledge, suppport and encourage continued vocalizations.


Make sure your child’s immunizations are up-to-date.

Friday F

Smile, laugh, hug – let your child know how much you care!




Encourage your child to express feelings verbally, and in drawing and writing.


Encourage your child to look for visual patterns - in nature, in books, in art they’re everywhere!



Spend time outdoors; fresh air enhances well-being.


Infants and toddlers love books - sturdy, washable books with simple, uncluttered pictures.


Talk as you do simple, everyday things so your child becomes familiar with the sounds and rhythm of language.

Sing, sing, sing! Use music to share information, to expand vocabulary, to have fun!



Bend and stretch and reach for the sky; exercise with your child!

Well-balanced meals support growth and development.


Honor your child’s choices whenever possible. Set reasonable limits.


Foster an awareness of print. Point out letters and words, and read signs aloud.


Use words to describe what your child is doing so actions are connected to words. “You’re brushing your teeth.”


Learn how to install your child’s car seat and about childhood injury prevention.


Use positive strategies to guide your child’s behavior.


Encourage your child to draw and write by providing a variety of tools and materials.


Expand vocabulary by creating new verses for fingerplays and songs.


Make sure your child gets adequate sleep. Deep sleep helps with long-term memory.

Saturday S


Recognize and show appreciation for your child’s efforts and accomplishments.


Encourage movement, exploration, curiosity and independence.


Laugh! Laughing reduces stress and boosts the production of chemicals needed for alertness and memory.


Talk, sing and play, every day!


Encourage play doh, water and sand play. Using fingers and hands develops small muscles and stimulates the brain.

Cabin fever time!


For more information visit, Submitted by Lori Schnepp, Potterville GSRP Assistant Teacher

Bird Feeders… chirp, chirp!

n o CPR i t a i c an o s s A


Aid Train i n irst g dF

At this time of year everyone has cabin fever. Both you and your child or children need something different to do. Here is a fun idea that can change your normal routine. Have an indoor picnic! The weather is too cold outside but inside can be just as fun. Here are some things you could use as a picnic basket or a bag and a blanket to spread out on the floor. Encourage your child to be involved. You can have your child help you make sandwiches and pick drinks. Then both of you can pack up and set off on your picnic adventure. Let your child choose the spot, any room can work, just spread out the blanket. Now enjoy your lunch together. Talk about make-believe trees, grass and flowers that you see. Let your child lead the way to any make-believe adventure you can have together. Spending time together and playing is so much fun. Let your imaginations soar! Enjoy!

a n c i r Hea e m A rt

8 • Spring 2011 edition

Homemade bird feeders are simple and can usually be made by objects found around your house, whether it be inside or out.

Supplies needed: • Pine cone or thick stick • String • Peanut butter • Bird seed Have your child help you find all the materials that are on your bird feeder list. Let your child color, mark, or cross off the materials that they have found. Once you and your child have gathered up all the supplies, tie a string on the end of the pine cone or stick. This will be used to hang the bird feeder from a tree branch outside. Let your child spread peanut butter onto the pine cone or stick. Once your child has spread the peanut butter on, have them roll the pine cone or stick in bird seed. Once your bird feeder is finished, place the bird feeder on a tree outside, preferably by a window that your child may be able to look out of. They will be very excited when they see the first bird visit their bird feeder. Submitted by Danijela Cvrljevic, Potterville GSRP Teacher

Eaton ISD, 1790 E Packard Hwy., Charlotte Mon. April 11 or June 6 from 9 a.m. –1 p.m. Register at

CPR and First Aid Training provided by certified AmericanHeart Association instructors. This four hour training is accepted by child care licensing, camp counseling, and volunteer organizations as meeting the requirements for supervising children and adults. This is a great class for family members wanting to provide a safe environment for friends and family. Cost is $50. Participants must pay at door. Checks and money orders should be made out to EISD. Groups of 5 or more should call for special group rates. Maximum 16 participants.

For everything Early Childhood in Eaton County, go to

Early Childhood Quarterly Newsletter  

Early Childhood Quarterly Newsletter

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