A Great Start for EVERY CHILD in Montcalm County…

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About Us

The Great Start Collaborative is a partnership of community leaders, business owners, charitable and faith-based organizations, health and human service agencies, educators, and parents that come together for the purpose of:

  • Promoting awareness and advocating for early childhood issues;
  • Address factors that influence school readiness;
  • Planning and coordinating community services.

The collaborative is committed to developing a seamless system that utilizes community resources and supports to help families have access to tools needed to provide a healthy start for all children. A seamless system of care builds networks that support the five focus areas identified in the star points. Our system will ultimately achieve better outcomes for children and their families if we all work together to support young children.

Message From Our Director

Montcalm County Community Members,

Early Childhood continues to grow and evolve, especially in Montcalm County.   From higher quality preschool opportunities to changes in organizational policy, young children continue to remain at the forefront of our community’s priorities.  

We know that research shows us that early childhood; birth through age five is a critical time in the development of a child’s brain.  Early experiences matter.  We know high quality programming is essential in building children’s brains to be successful in school and life.   We also know that this is why the investment in early childhood has such a high rate of return.  For every dollar we invest in a young child, we see at least a seven-dollar return.  Simply stated, early childhood is a smart investment.    

We always welcome others to join our efforts. Thank you for visiting our website in an effort to be connected!

Cari O’Connor, LMSW 

MAISD Great Start Director
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What Our Families are Saying

We have been a part of the Great Start Collaborative Group for 3 years.  We can not say enough about how much friendship, support and education (hours) we get from this group.  And to top it all off my shy kid gets excited when I tell her we are going to another “meeting”!  Keep up the good work!
MCGSC Parent Coalition Member Leasa A.

The Parent Coalition hangouts provide support for me as a parent, have helped me build friendships within our community, and offered so many incredible parenting tips to help me navigate through my parenting journey. So thankful for this group. 

–  MCGSC Parent Coalition Member Ashleigh B.

This program was so beneficial for my child’s transition into school. The staff were very nurturing and helped us set appropriate goals for our son’s education. He learned so many things and enjoyed the classroom. He made a lot of progress with social skills and building friendships.

GSRP parent Shaw F.

 “Playgroup has been such a great experience for me and my boys. Whether in person or virtual, they always are so encouraging and helpful. They not only engage the kiddos in fun activities, but always are giving great tips about everything from how to encourage picky eaters to how to help with tantruming Toddlers. They always are willing to help problem solve questions I have about childhood development and emotional regulation. Playgroup is also a great place to connect with other moms. I am so thankful for this group.  

MCGSC Great Start Playgroup Member Sara S.

 Playgroup has been an incredible outlet for my children to be plugged in to their community. No matter whether we have met in-person or virtually, the quality connections my children have made socially, emotionally, and physically have helped them gain confidence in themselves. My boys have all begged to go every week and especially enjoyed their books they got to bring home! Thank you for years of support in loving my children, supporting all of us, and encouraging us along the way. Playgroup has been a welcoming space for my kids to grow, learn, and experience new things. Thank you for positively shaping lives for the future. We have been blessed to be a part of it.

MCGSC Great Start Playgroup Member  Melanie S.

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