Thursday, March 30, 2017

I Completed a Preschool Interest Form Now What?

The next step after completing an interest form on greatstartjackson.org is income verification.
What is considered income?
The easiest way to provide the necessary income verification is to bring in your 1040 tax form. We must look at the gross income for the past calendar year (1040 tax form) or the last 12 months (W-2's, unemployment, child support, etc.) All wages including overtime are considered.

Where do I provide this information?
If you are potentially eligible for Head Start services, you be contacted by Head Start to complete the income verification process. All other income verification will be completed at any of the Great Start Readiness Program fairs. There will be several community preschool fairs from April until the start of the school year in the fall. You will receive robo calls to notify you of the locations and times of these fairs. The events are staffed by Community Action Agency Head Start, Jackson County Great Start Readiness Programs, and Jackson County Intermediate School District.

Wait for a program to contact you.
Why is there a wait?
We are required by the State of Michigan to enroll children in waves or groups based on family income.

What if my first choice fills?
If you have listed second or third you will receive a call from your second or third choice. If you only listed one program choice, ISD staff will contact you to see if you would be interested in any of the current openings or if you want to be placed on a waiting list for your original program choice.

No one has contacted me.
If you are concerned that you have not been contacted, please leave a message on the Jackson County Preschool Hotline 517-768-5130 or jcisd.gsrp@jcisd.org. We will return your call or email as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We are ALL Great Start Families

The objective of Great Start Families is to create a fun atmosphere to learn, foster friendships and provide a platform for parents and caregivers voices to be heard.  Our schedules and events are going to look a little different so be sure to stay tuned for details on our next event in early summer. Topics will include how to be your child's advocate, mental health awareness for children and families and how children with disabilities enrich our families and community.

Our schedule and locations may change but our purpose will remain the same.  We want to be known as the best local resource for families.  We all want what is best for our for our kids and oddly enough they did not come with instruction books.

We build friendships and make connections when we get together because its more fun to learn, contribute and celebrate together.

We share our experiences, our struggles and our success so we can be the voice of early childhood in our community that represents everyone.  As the parents of young children we give a "customer" perspective when decisions are being made about funding, programs and services.

Look for the me, Jennifer Ganzel in your playgroups, parenting groups and your PTO  meetings as we bring the conversation of early childhood to you because we are ALL Great Start Families.

If you have questions or you would like me to present to you group please contact me at (517)745-9544 or GreatStart.Parents@jcisd.org.  See you soon!


Monday, March 27, 2017

Pregnant? Help is Available!

Did you just find out you are pregnant?  Is this your first baby or a new addition to your growing family? Feeling overwhelmed?  First of all, congratulations!  We know how exciting - and stressful - bringing a little one into the world is! 

Did you know there are many resources in our community that can help you prepare for the arrival of your little one?  You don't even need to do the homework.  By calling 2-1-1 you will be connected with a Community Navigation Specialist who will direct you to programs in Jackson County that will be beneficial to you and your baby.  Check out the brochure below for more information.  Best of luck to you and your family!





Thursday, March 16, 2017

Three Year Old Preschool Options in Jackson County

There are two options for quality three year old preschool in Jackson County: Head Start and tuition programs. Only 4 year old children are eligible for the Great Start Readiness Program.

Head Start
  • Serves children with a family income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four this is $24,600 a year.
  •  Free preschool program funded by the federal government for 3 and 4 year olds.
  •  Children of all abilities can participate
  • Teachers are certified in Early Childhood Education
  • 2 or 3 teachers for every 15-18 students
  •  Research based curriculum that include health, safety, literacy and social development
  • Offers a mix of full and part day programs
  • Limited transportation is available
  •  Meals and snacks are provided in all programs
  •  Parent involvement is encouraged and supported through classroom volunteering, parent meetings and activities
  • Health, dental and mental health services
  • Family assessment and goal setting

Tuition
  • No income guidelines
  • Tuition is paid directly to the program
  • Enroll immediately with the program of your choice
  • Curriculum varies by preschool
  • Mix of full and part day programs
  • Tuition preschools can be found on greatstarttoquality.org

To apply for Head Start, contact Community Action Agency at 517-784-4800. To locate a tuition program, visit greatstarttoquality.org to search for a preschool near your home or workplace and contact the preschool directly to enroll.

If you have any questions about the preschool enrollment process, please contact us at jcisd.gsrp@jcisd.org or 517-768-5130. Multiple staff have the ability to check the GSRP email and preschool hotline messages and will respond to your question as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Four Year Old Preschool Options in Jackson County

There are three options for quality four year old preschool in Jackson County: Head Start, Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), and tuition programs.

Head Start
  • Serves children with a family income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four this is $24,600 a year.
  •  Free preschool program funded by the federal government for 3 and 4 year olds.
  •  Children of all abilities can participate
  • Teachers are certified in Early Childhood Education
  • 2 or 3 teachers for every 15-18 students
  •  Research based curriculum that include health, safety, literacy and social development
  • Offers a mix of full and part day programs
  • Limited transportation is available
  •  Meals and snacks are provided in all programs
  •  Parent involvement is encouraged and supported through classroom volunteering, parent meetings and activities
  • Health, dental and mental health services
  • Family assessment and goal setting
GSRP
  • Serves children at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four this is $61,500 a year.
  • Spots may be available to families at or above 250% of the federal poverty level for a sliding fee scale tuition rate.
  • Free preschool program funded by the state of Michigan for 4 year olds
  • Children of all abilities can participate
  • Teachers are certified in Early Childhood Education
  •  2 or 3 teachers for every 15-18 students
  • Research based curriculum that includes health, safety, literacy and social development
  • Offers a mix of full and part day programs
  • Child care to extend the day is available at some locations
  • Transportation is available for some locations
  • Meals and snacks are provided depending on the length of the program
  • Parent involvement is encouraged and supported through classroom volunteering, parent meetings and activities
  • Dental and developmental screenings
Tuition
  • No income guidelines
  • Tuition is paid directly to the program
  • Enroll immediately with the program of your choice
  • Curriculum varies by preschool
  • Mix of full and part day programs
  • Tuition preschools can be found on greatstarttoquality.org

To apply for Head Start or GSRP, complete an interest form at greatstartjackson.org or visit any GSRP site to complete a paper interest form.  If your child qualifies, you will begin receiving robo calls in April to keep you updated on where you are in the enrollment process. To find a tuition program, visit greatstarttoquality.org to search for a preschool near your home or workplace and contact the preschool directly to enroll.

If you have any questions about the preschool enrollment process, please contact us at jcisd.gsrp@jcisd.org or 517-768-5130. Multiple staff have the ability to check the GSRP email and preschool hotline messages and will respond to your question as soon as possible.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Shoe Tying : Tips and Tricks

One of the hardest tasks for me to master as a child (next to riding my bike without training wheels) was tying my shoes.  It seems at that time, it was a requirement to enter kindergarten, so I remember feeling pressured.  That pressure lead to stress and frustration, and I ended up in a tantrum of tears. Several family members offered suggestions on how to learn, but it was the "bunny ear method" that finally helped me.





When my children began inching toward that same time in their life, I knew that I was about to experience the same torture that I went through as a child.  I started thinking that keeping them in Velcro and slip-on shoes didn't seem like a bad idea.  But, at their kindergarten round-up, I received a bag of goodies to take home with my now "big-kid" which included a guide to tying shoes.  Oh the frustration...and reality!




Needless to say, both of my kiddos did spend the first few months of kindergarten in easy-peasy shoes.  There were tears while learning, both from them and myself.  It was frustrating, but after a few different family members offered their techniques - they learned!


If you are currently struggling or feel like your time is coming, here's some advice.

  1. Don't start too early.  Ages 4-5 is a great time to start!
  2. Get some really cool shoes that your child wants to wear.
  3. Employ the advice of many different family members and friends.
  4. Know when your child needs a break from learning.
  5. Know when YOU need a break.
  6. Let your child know you believe in them, you are not disappointed in them, and that you are there to support them when they are ready to try again.  When a child feels in control, they feel strong in the world!

One resource that wasn't available to my parents as they were teaching me was YouTube.  There you will find many videos displaying different techniques.  Check out this fantastic video to help get you started.








Have fun and happy tying!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Jackson Area Early Childhood Conference 2017

We are so excited to attend the Jackson Area Early Childhood Conference on Saturday, March 25th!  Not only does the event offer those employed in early childhood local opportunities for training hours and continuing education but what a great resource for parents!!  

Break out sessions include topics like Pinterest for early childhood, working with challenging children, caretakers guide to stress management, yoga adventure, successful approaches to parenting and teaching boys who are wired to move and so much more!

Great Start Families was able to sponsor 4 parents attendance and we are looking forward to sharing what we learned in our circles with friends and family, at playgroup, church and just about anywhere!

Click here for more information about the Jackson Area Early Childhood Conference.